Ammar Harris, the self-proclaimed pimp who murdered three strangers on the Las Vegas Strip, was sentenced to death on Wednesday this week.
In February 2013, Harris, now 29, shot and killed 27-year-old aspiring rapper Kenneth Cherry, Jr., believing him to be a man he had argued with earlier in the evening at the Haze nightclub in the Aria. Tragically, it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.
Harris’ Range Rover pulled up alongside Cherry’s Maserati in the early hours of the morning driving down the Strip and fired three shots through the driver’s window, killing Cherry and injuring a passenger. The Maserati then careened into a taxi cab, which burst into flames. Cab driver Michael Boldon, and his passenger, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, a mother of three, both died in the conflagration.
Harris fled Las Vegas the next day and was arrested a week later in Los Angeles by the FBI.
The jury took less around two hours to decide the fate of Harris’, who last week was convicted of 11 charges that included three counts of first-degree murder. The jury said it found 10 aggravating circumstances that contributed to the death sentence and none in mitigation.
Its members were not told that Harris is currently serving a 16 years-to-life year sentence for the rape and robbery of an 18 year-old Las Vegas woman, a crime he committed in 2010.
The defense had argued throughout the trial that Harris acted in self-defense, despite no gun being found in the Maserati. It also claimed he had had a difficult childhood, characterized by sexual abuse and neglect, and that a controlled prison environment might actually be good for him.
But the prosecution emphasized that Harris had been in prison before, in both South Carolina and Nevada, where he had a history of disciplinary problems. He had also been convicted of bribing a guard to smuggle alcohol and drugs into his cell.
One of the many aggravating factors beyond first-degree murder that can result in the death penalty under Nevada law is if “the murder was committed by a person who knowingly created a great risk of death to more than one person by means of a weapon, device or course of action which would normally be hazardous to the lives of more than one person.”
“The conduct of Ammar Harris was reckless and callous and unthinking toward any other people,” prosecutor Pamela Weckerly told jurors.
Harris was not in court to witness his sentencing.
But Will It Be Carried Out?
Despite having 80 inmates currently on death row, executions are relatively rare in Nevada, with the last occurring in 2006. In fact, back in April, state legislators discussed the possibility of building a new $829,000 execution chamber in Ely, where death row prisoners are housed.
But issues with both the pharmaceutical industry, which more and more has tried to distance itself from being a supplier of death-inducing drugs to prisons, as well as a similar stance from architectural firms needed to design and build such a facility, might make the budgetary issues virtually moot.
At present, prison officials claim, there is no suitable facility in which to carry out a death sentence.