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Testimony to resume in Harris death case

LAWRENCEVILLE - After a two-day break in testimony, the death penalty trial for Wesley Harris is expected to resume today with a key witness in the case.

Neither defense attorneys nor prosecutors would discuss why jurors were sent home Wednesday and Thursday, except to say that a legal issue arose that needed to be addressed. Both sides met privately with Superior Court Judge Richard T. Winegarden and emerged from the hearing tight-lipped. Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter said he was not allowed to discuss the hearing.

Other lawyers were also shepherded in and out of the courtroom during the Thursday hearing, including prominent defense attorneys Bruce Harvey of Atlanta and Walt Britt of Lawrenceville.

Testimony is expected to resume at 9 a.m. today with Demetrius Taylor, a friend of Harris who is incarcerated on an unrelated charge.

Police believe Harris confronted 22-year-old Whitney Land and her 2-year-old daughter, Jordan, at Panhandle Park in Clayton County on Nov. 8, 1999. He forced them into their car at gunpoint and drove them to Gwinnett, said Assistant District Attorney John Melvin.

Harris allegedly shot Whitney Land and Jordan Land multiple times, stuffed their bodies in the trunk of a car and set it ablaze near a Duluth water treatment plant. He is charged with two counts of murder and one count of second-degree arson.

Taylor led police to a private lake where he allegedly saw Harris discard two cell phones belonging to Land. He is also expected to testify that he waited in the car while Harris torched the vehicle and then dropped Harris off at a local motel.

During opening statements, defense attorney Johnny Moore said the evidence will not show Harris killed Land or her daughter.