|Charges dropped in killing of Los Gatos resident Jeanine Harms|
|By Connie Skipitares|
San Jose Mercury News
|Article Launched:06/27/2007 03:41:59 PM PDT|
Two and half years after murder suspect Maurice Nasmeh was charged in the death of Jeanine Harms, a Superior Court judge today dismissed those charges and ordered him free from jail.
The stunning development in the high-profile case that was closely watched by the legal community came after Nasmeh's attorney asked the court to move the trial to within 60 days.
That was Nasmeh's right following a California Supreme Court action last week that cleared the way for the murder case to return to Santa Clara County Superior Court.
Deputy District Attorney Dale Sanderson told Judge Ray Cunningham that the DA's office was not ready to go to trial. The DA's office last week announced it needed another year to completely re-analyze key fiber evidence that is the heart of its case.
Prosecutors could refile the charges in a year, but Sanderson was not immediately available to comment on that possibility.
Harms, 42, disappeared from her Los Gatos duplex on July 27, 2001, after a date with Nasmeh, a Campbell architect, whom she had just met that evening. Her body has never been found.
Defense attorney Dan Jensen said after the dismissal "that nobody won. This is a lose, lose situation.
"The Harms family is not getting any closure on this. Maurice is going to have a cloud over his head the rest of his life; it's always going to follow him. He lost his job, he lost his house and this has devastated his family."
Jensen said he never doubted Nasmeh's innocence.
"If we had gone to trial, I know the fiber evidence we would have presented would have convinced a jury that he was innocent."
The fibers taken from the cargo area of Nasmeh's vehicle, authorities said, were from a yarn crafts project that Harms worked on in her home. They also were found on a rug that disappeared when she did and was later recovered. Police believe the rug was used to dispose of her body.
Nasmeh told police he left Harm's duplex as she slept on her living room sofa. He was the last person known to have seen her alive.
Harms' disappearance captured national attention and was featured on a television true-crime show, "America's Most Wanted."
The key break in the case came in July of 2003 when Harms' rug suddenly turned up. A woman who saw a news report about the missing rug called police, saying she had found it two years earlier next to a shopping center dumpster.
Check mercurynews.com for updates on this breaking story.
Contact Connie Skipitares at email@example.com or (408) 920-5647.