Chiquita Tate, a high-profile criminal defense attorney in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was brutally murdered in 2009. Ahead of the Dateline: NBC episode about her case, here’s what you need to know about the crime, who was convicted, and who her convicted murderer claims is the real culprit.
An Officer Described Tate’s Murder As ‘The Most Brutal’ He’d Ever Seen
According to CNN target=”_blank”, 34-year-old Tate was known as a “tenacious” criminal defense attorney — she even had a tattoo of Lady Justice on her back. But in 2009, right in the middle of a high-profile murder trial, Tate was found by her husband of just over a year, Greg Harris, dead in her law office. She had been stabbed 38 times in what Baton Rouge Policer Sergeant Elvin Howard Jr. told Oxygen was “the most brutal murder [he had] ever worked or witnessed.”
When police questioned Harris, they found a warrant out for him in connection with a battery-domestic violence incident in December 2007 at the couple’s home. That warrant accused Harris of using “force and violence” against Tate. He failed to appear at his May 2008 pre-trial conference and a warrant was issued for his arrest for contempt of court.
The couple wed in that time period between the domestic violence incident and failure to appear in court. Their marriage license was dated January 10, 2008, and they were wed on February 8 of that year. A year later, Tate would be dead. The warrant revealed that Tate was “planning on divorcing the defendant (Harris) due to marital problems” and had leased a separate apartment.
Tate’s Blood Was Found in Harris’ Home
Police briefly looked at the two men Tate was currently defending in her murder trial, brothers Dearius and Denako Duheart, who were accused of burning a man to death. They would have gotten a continuance in their trial if Tate were to die or disappear. But both men were alibied — they were in jail at the time of Tate’s murder.
So, based on the outstanding warrant for Harris, police arrested Tate’s husband and executed search warrants on his car and home. They found blood traces matching Tate’s on various surfaces, including the washer and dryer and in a closet. Harris was eventually charged with second-degree murder.
The 2011 trial ended in a guilty verdict, but the jury found him guilty of manslaughter, not murder. Harris was sentenced to 40 years in jail without the possibility of parole.
Harris Has Requested a New Trial, Alleging the Duhearts’ Third Brother Was the Real Cuprit
In 2019, Harris petitioned for a new trial. His lawyer, Rick Gallot, stated in a March 2020 court filing that DNA evidence will prove the murderer was not Harris, according to The Advocate. The filing alleges that DNA found under Tate’s fingernails matches Denard Duheart, the now-deceased brother of Tate’s clients Dearius and Denako Duheart.
Gallot also stated that there are witness statements alleging that Denard Duheart was the person responsible for Tate’s death.
At the time she died, Tate was representing Dearius and Denako in the 2007 burning death of Jason Fourmy. Those charges were eventually dismissed after several witnesses were shot to death. But Denako was eventually convicted of attempted second-degree murder in an unrelated incident and is now serving 20 years in prison. Dearius is serving a 14-year sentence due to a 2014 gun charge conviction.
But in June 2020, District Judge Bonnie Jackson denied Harris’ request for an evidentiary hearing and a new trial, according to The Advocate. He is currently serving his 40-year sentence in the Louisiana Department of Corrections location in Baton Rouge.
Dateline: NBC airs Fridays and Saturdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.