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Sunday, Jun 12, 2005
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Posted on Fri, Jun. 10, 2005

Preliminary hearing set for suspect in Harms' slaying

Mercury News

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Jerome Nadler on Friday set Aug. 29 as the date for a preliminary hearing in the case of Maurice Nasmeh, who is accused of killing 42-year-old Jeanine Harms of Los Gatos in what became the highest-profile missing-persons case in the South Bay in recent years.

The hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m.

Nasmeh, 41, a San Jose architect, has pleaded not guilty to the slaying. He was arrested Dec. 16 and remains in custody without bail. He is charged with killing Harms, who disappeared on July 27, 2001, after a late-night date with him. Police say he was the last person to see her alive. Her remains have not been found.

Authorities connected Nasmeh to the alleged crime through yarn fibers from a crafts project of Harms' that were found inside the cargo area of Nasmeh's sport-utility vehicle.

At a brief court appearance on Friday, Nasmeh's lead attorney, flamboyant San Francisco defense lawyer Tony Serra, showed up in court for the first time. Serra's co-counsel, William Welch, and San Jose attorney Dan Jensen usually appear on Nasmeh's behalf when there are hearings. The two men also were in court on Friday.

Two of Harms' closest friends also were in court, noting that Friday would have been Harms' 46th birthday.

``That's why we're here today, to honor her memory,'' said Janice Burnham outside the courtroom. She had known Harms since they were youngsters. She and another friend, Loretta Meyer, said they planned to commemorate Harms' birthday by either having a meal at their friend's favorite Chinese restaurant in Campbell or visiting the memorial bench at Los Gatos Civic Center that is named for her.

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