Tape Released With Trooper Describing Woman’s Slaying
VERO BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ Police released a taped confession by a state trooper accused of strangling a woman after a traffic stop in which he called her the name of his estranged wife and asked why she was divorcing him.
Florida Highway Patrol trooper Timothy Harris, 32, allegedly stopped Lorraine Hendricks of Jacksonville on an isolated section of Interstate 95 and killed her after the two had sex on a wooded median strip March 4.
In a tape made the night of his arrest in April and released Thursday, Harris told investigators Ms. Hendricks consented to sexual intercourse but became frightened when he started calling her Sandy, the name of his estranged wife.
He said he went berserk and pushed her face in the sand and straddled her back while pinning her arms to her sides with his legs.
″I was trying to calm down,″ the trooper said on the tape. ″I asked her why she was divorcing me. She said she understood I was hurt, but that she wasn’t the girl I thought she was.″
Moments later, detectives said, Harris crushed her throat with his bare hands, although he said he thought he had choked her with her underwear.
State Attorney Bruce Colton: ″When she died, Tim, was it fast?″
Colton: ″Did that make it harder?″
Harris: ″I wanted to stop it.″
Colton: ″As you were doing it, you wanted to stop it?″
Harris: ″I just couldn’t stop, you know.″
Defense attorneys are trying to suppress the tape, arguing Harris was coerced, and Circuit Judge L.B. Vocelle has continued the matter until Tuesday.
In the same tape, Harris asked to be sent ″somewhere where I can get help″ and asked for assurances he would not get the death penalty.
But Colton told Harris that he could make no promises, and Assistant State Attorney Dave Morgan said Thursday that he will ask for the death penalty when Harris stands trial next month in Bartow.
Attorneys for Harris are awaiting a psychiatric report on their client before deciding whether to use an insanity defense.
Hendricks was on her way to Fort Lauderdale to see her 6-year-old daughter when Harris stopped her for driving while wearing headphones, according to his taped statements.
On the tape, Harris said he was going to give her a warning ticket, but they began talking about divorce and families.
After the slaying, Harris said he took off the rest of her clothes and covered her body with pine needles. He said he threw her clothing and purse in a trash can at a rest stop.