Jury Recommends Death For Man Convicted Of Burning Girlfriend To Death
A LeFlore County, Okla., jury on Wednesday night recommended the death penalty for a man convicted of burning his girlfriend to death in 2012.
After more than two hours of deliberations, the jury that convicted Donnie Lee Harris of murder the day before recommended the man be sentenced to death. The recommendation came after the victim’s family members testified in court Wednesday.
Formal sentencing for Harris is scheduled for Feb. 6, 2014.
Harris, 31, was found guilty Tuesday of covering his girlfriend Kristi Ferguson, 25, with gasoline, then lighting her on fire. Ferguson suffered severe burns and later died from her injuries at a burn center in Oklahoma City, officials said.
Ferguson’s family said the ruling brings them closure they’ve been waiting for for nearly two years. Family members said Harris never came across as a good person, and they tried to help Ferguson leave the relationship.
Court documents state Ferguson ran from the home after Harris’ family tried to put the fire out with water, but it only caused the flames to spread. She ran to a neighbor’s home, where she received help, according to court documents. The neighbor testified during the trial that Harris yelled and cursed at Ferguson after he burned her.
An autopsy report showed Ferguson suffered second and third-degree burns to her body.
During his arraignment, Harris refused to enter a plea, so the judge entered a not guilty plea for him. Not guilty pleas are standard in criminal cases, as they allow the judicial process to continue.
The last Oklahoma man executed was Johnny Dale Black, who was put to death on Tuesday after being convicted in a 1998 fatal stabbing.