In Trial, Prosecutors Describe Vance Harris’s Last Moments Alive

In the first full day of testimony in the murder case against Dominique Bassil, prosecutors focused on Vance Harris’s last moments alive.

Harris, 28, was fatally stabbed in Southeast D.C. on Aug. 13, 2011. Bassil, Harris’s girlfriend, has pleaded innocent by reason of self-defense to the second-degree murder charge against her.

In testimony Wednesday, witnesses described hearing a door slam shut, before hearing footsteps run down the stairs of Bassil’s apartment building on the morning of Aug. 13. Minutes later witnesses heard someone run back up the stairs and bang on Bassil’s apartment door.

Oh, you gonna lock me out,” a witness said Harris yelled.

A few minutes later Harris knocked on a neighbor’s door seeking assistance.

The neighbor opened the door, saw that Harris was bleeding, then closed the door fearing that someone was chasing Harris. Harris put his back against the neighbor’s door and slid to the floor; the neighbor yelled to his girlfriend to call 911.

Jurors heard that 911 call, and a second one made by the same neighbor, Wednesday.

In the first call, a neighbor told the dispatcher that “blood is coming through my door.” The dispatcher asked who the victim was, and the neighbor said, “I don’t even know him. Oh God, he’s bleeding real bad.”

The neighbor later made a second call to 911, asking, “Where is the ambulance for this man?” The dispatcher replied: “The call just came in four minutes ago.”

The ambulance had trouble getting in the gate to the apartment complex, another witness testified, and by the time paramedics arrived, Harris was dead.

The neighbor who called 911 testified that Bassil never opened the door to her apartment during the time that Harris was lying in the hallway, despite several knocks at her door. That witness also testified that they heard no yells, screams, or cries for help prior to the door slamming.

According to charging documents in the case, at the time of her arrest Bassil agreed to be interviewed on tape by homicide detectives. According to the charging documents, in the interview she

stated that the victim, Harris, was verbally abusive and began to slap her when she picked up a shoe and began striking the defendant. [Bassil] could have walked out of the apartment and called for help. Instead, [Bassil] stated that she ran out of the bedroom into the kitchen and picked up a twelve inch stainless steel knife off of the kitchen counter and began stabbing the victim, Harris. [Bassil] then ran out the apartment where she was caught on video throwing the knife in the trash can before going to the apartment security booth. [Bassil] said that she dropped the knife as she was running from the apartment. A bloody knife was recovered on the floor next to the victim, Harris, and another bloody knife was recovered in the trash can by the security booth where the defendant was observed throwing it away.

A medical examiner testified that Harris suffered three stab wounds: one to his right abdomen, one that entered the back of his right forearm then exited the front, and one to the front of his upper-right arm. The wound that entered his forearm and exited the front damaged a major artery and caused Harris rapid blood loss. The examiner also testified that Harris had defensive injuries on his left hand.

While the examiner described the wounds, using photos to show entry and exit points, Bassil sat with her left hand over her forehead. Her eyes turned down, and Bassil never once looked at the photographs.

A crime scene investigator who processed Bassil after she was picked up by police on the day of the stabbing testified that Bassil had no visible injuries or bruises anywhere on her body.

The trial is set to resume Thursday at 10 a.m. in courtroom 318.

blog comments powered by Disqus