Sharetta Day’s killer was being sentenced in court, but the judge and lawyers kept talking about her son, Nicholas, who was in the hallway petting a therapy dog.
“It’s him that I think about, in no way diminishing Sharetta’s life,” said Judge Robert Haida during sentencing for Alvin Harris Jr.
Harris, 40, was sentenced to 40 years for Sharetta’s 2015 stabbing death and 20 years for stabbing Nicholas. The sentences will run concurrently; Harris will have to serve 100 percent of the 40 years and at least 85 percent of the 20-year sentence.
Brianna Day, a cousin of the victim, read a victim impact statement before sentencing. She said Nicholas’ “whole direction of life” had been impacted, and the boy tries to mask sad feelings because he knows “it hurts us to see him missing his mom.”
“All because Alvin does not leave when he’s not wanted,” she said.
Justin Kuehn, Harris’ attorney, frequently reminded the court that Harris has diminished mental capacity and mental illness.
“The blame here rests with Alvin, and the uninvited mental illness,” Kuehn said.
Harris has the capacity of a 9-year-old child, Kuehn said, coupled with depression and is easily upset when he feels abandoned or rejected.
Judith Dalan, prosecuting attorney, brought Detective Michael Byrne, of St. Louis County, as her first witness. Byrne told the court that he had arrested Harris in 2006 for holding his then-wife captive with a knife and threatening her children.
“He doesn’t stop bringing a knife to a relationship when he doesn’t get what he wants,” Dalan said, the 2006 case and subsequent orders of protection from women against Harris. The state had requested 50 years for the first degree murder conviction.
“One thing for sure, you didn’t learn a basic rule,” Haida told Harris. “You don’t go where you’re not wanted, and don’t stay when you’re told to leave.”
About a dozen of Day’s family members sat in the courtroom, bookended by another dozen sheriff’s deputies there in support. Kuehn said he contacted some of Harris’ family to speak on his behalf but they were unable to come.
“I don’t even know what I had hoped for,” said Tara Triplett, Day’s sister, after the sentencing while watching her nephew walk away with the therapy dog.