A man charged at Sharetta Day’s killer, Alvin Harris Jr., on Thursday morning after a judge found him guilty — but mentally ill — of the Swansea woman’s stabbing death.
As the man attempted to hop over several rows of chairs to reach the defendant, multiple officers intervened and put him in a choke-hold before the man could reach the 40-year-old Harris, who was sitting at a table with his defense lawyers.
The man’s identity could not immediately be determined. He had been seated with the family of Day. The man was taken to a back room of the St. Clair County Courthouse and left with family shortly afterward.
Day’s cousin, Glenda Day Dunlap, collapsed into the arms of a relative outside the courtroom after the verdict was delivered, crying as the two left the courthouse.
“I want him to die,” Day Dunlap said.
Day Dunlap continued to cry as she described the attack on her cousin and the victim’s 9-year-old son, Nick Day. She added that Harris told the victim — obscenely — to shut up three times as he stabbed her.
After the murder, Day Dunlap said, the defendant called a family member and said that he stabbed the victim 10 times.
“Is that crazy? No. I don’t believe that he’s mentally ill. He’s 38 years old. He’s had girlfriends and jobs,” Day Dunlap said. “He isn’t crazy. He’s a murderer.”
Judge Robert Haida found Harris guilty, but mentally ill, of first-degree murder in the death of Day. In addition, Harris was found guilty but mentally ill on a charge of aggravated battery to a child, for wounding her 9-year-old son during the fatal attack.
The judge did not find him guilty on a third charge of attempted murder, a charge filed in regard to Nick Day’s injuries.
Harris is set to be sentenced at 10 a.m. Oct. 27. Prosecuting attorney Debra Phillips said Harris will serve 100 percent of his sentence, which will range from 20 to 60 years. Phillips said the mentally ill aspect of the verdict affects only the type of mental health services that will be available to Harris in prison.
Day’s sister, Tara Triplett said outside the courtroom: “Personally, I believe no amount of time, no verdict will bring my sister back. The law did what it’s supposed to do.”
“We are very pleased with Judge Haida’s decisive verdict. The public should be very proud of the whole team, prosecutors, police, all who brought this killer to justice today,” State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said.
Nick Day, now 10, testified at the trial with a black Labrador retriever therapy dog named Homer by his side. He described finding Harris and his mother arguing at Day’s apartment and seeing the knife attack that followed.
“All our hearts have been touched by the very young man who bravely testified for the life and memory of his mother,” Kelly said.
He went into surgery right after being stabbed and is now cared for by relatives.
“He isn’t going to have the future that his mother wanted for him,” Day Dunlap said. “He has nightmares. He wakes up talking to her. He watched as his mother was murdered. This is his memory of his mother.”
During the trial, defense attorney Justin Kuehn argued that Harris acted in self-defense and that the man had a mental illness.
Kuehn did not deny Harris stabbed Day, but noted that the defendant suffered a knife wound on his chest. Kuehn also noted that Harris testified that Day came at him first.
“If being stabbed in the chest is not sufficient to turn first-degree murder to second-degree murder as a strong provocation, what is?” Kuehn argued.
Prosecuting attorney Judy Dalan countered, saying that Harris may have angry that Day was breaking up with him, and wanted control.
“He’s not having any of that — he’s going to have it his way,” Dalan argued. “He was mad.”
Day, 38, was found lying on the ground of the parking lot of her apartment complex on Aug. 29, 2015. She had at least 10 stab wounds from a knife — four were fatal, puncturing her heart and both her lungs.
Dalan said Harris refused to leave Day’s apartment when police arrived just 30 seconds after a neighbor called 911, which she argued doesn’t support his claim of self-defense.
“Sharetta was one of the funnest people you could be around — she was always the life of the party,” Triplett said Wednesday. “She was a very good mom, always involved in Nicholas’ school, PTO — everything with his life.”
Reporters Kara Berg and Beth Hundsdorfer contributed to this report.