Chiquita Harris was a 34-year-old criminal defense attorney working on a high-profile case when she was brutally murdered in her office. Her story will be told on tonight’s episode of Dateline NBC.
Tate was described as an ambitious lawyer who was tenacious and would always fight for her clients, according to an early report of the case by CNN. At the time of the murder, Tate was representing a defendant in a high-profile murder trial. Her body was discovered in her office on February 20, 2009.
Tate had been stabbed over 40 times and had defensive wounds on her hands.
Read on to learn more about Chiquita Tate and Greg Harris.
1. Harris and Tate Were Married For Over a Year
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) August 20, 2020
Inquistr reports that Harris and Tate had been together for years and had been married for just over a year when Tate was murdered.
One day early on in their relationship, Harris allegedly became so angry that he grabbed Tate by the neck and choked her. She called 911, but did not pursue the case. The incident, however, played a key part in the investigation into her murder, as police found an outstanding warrant for domestic violence against Harris.
Just a year after their marriage, Tate moved into an apartment of her own, revealing to her sister that she had enough of the marriage and no longer wanted to be with Harris.
2. Harris Called The Police When He Couldn’t Get Ahold of His Wife
On the night of the murder, Harris called 911 to say that he could not get ahold of his wife, who he said was pulling an all-nighter at her office in order to prepare for the murder trial she was working on.
According to Oxygen, Harris said he wanted to get into her law office just to make sure she was OK. She wasn’t, though: when police entered the building, they found her office in a state of disarray, a lot of blood, and Tate’s body on the floor.
Baton Rouge Police Sergeant Elvin Howard, Jr. told Oxygen the case was “the most brutal murder I’ve ever worked or witnessed.”
There were many stab wounds, but the one in her neck was later recognized as the lethal blow.
3. Tate’s Wallet Was Stolen & Harris’ Car Was Ticketed at the Scene
Allegedly as a way to lead police to new suspects, Harris allegedly stole Tate’s wallet at the scene and left it on a dark road.
The Advocate reported that the prosecutor, Prem Burns, said the killing was premeditated, cruel and calculated. She said that strands of a woman’s hair were placed in Tate’s hands and her wallet was discarded in the hopes that some “unsuspecting thief” would find the wallet and use the credit cards, becoming a suspect in Tate’s murder.
There was no indication of a robbery at the scene, as Tate’s diamond earrings and wedding ring were untouched.
Police later found that Harris’ Mercedes had been ticketed on February 19, just across the street from Tate’s law office. According to Inquisitr, an examination of his car also found blood on a pair of sunglasses.
4. Harris Is Serving 40 Years in Prison
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) August 20, 2020
After arresting Harris, police executed a search warrant on his home where they used luminol to look for traces of blood. They found a large amount of blood traces on the washer and dryer as well as in a closet.
Also incriminating Harris in the search was the box of weaves stashed under his bed. Prosecutors believe he placed hair from a weave in Tate’s hand to frame a woman for the murder.
DNA testing of the blood in the apartment confirmed that it belonged to Tate. He was charged with second-degree murder and the trial began in March 2011. Harris’s trial lasted 16 days, and he was found guilty of manslaughter and not the initial charge of second-degree murder. He received the maximum sentence of 40 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
5. Harris Maintains His Innocence in the Murder
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) August 21, 2020
On June 19, 2020, The Advocate reported that Harris was still asking for an evidentiary hearing as well as a new trial in the 2009 stabbing of his wife. Harris’ attorney, Rick Gallot, asked that the judge allow the new trial.
Gallot argued that Harris is innocent, and he claimed that DNA found under Tate’s fingernails, if tested, would prove that. He also argued that Tate was murdered by Denard Duheart, the now-deceased brother of a former client of Tate’s.
According to the attorney, witness statements report that Duheart was responsible, but East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said that the jury found Harris guilty despite understanding that Tate was a criminal defense lawyer and Duheart was a previous client of hers.
“The jury obviously considered and rejected the allegation she was killed by a client, especially in light of the overwhelming evidence that Harris was the offender,” he said.
His requests for the evidentiary hearing and his application for post-conviction relief have been denied.