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Saturday, January 16, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Triple Killer Chills Courtroom During His Sentencing -- Harris Gets 94 Years For 3 Women's Deaths

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

DeWayne Lee Harris, convicted of brutally murdering three women, was as eerily defiant yesterday, moments before he was sentenced to 94 years in prison, as he had been during his trial.

His words sliced through the silence of the courtroom, haunting those who heard his dark visions of the future long after he had been escorted back to his cell in the King County Jail.

"Everywhere, it's going to be chaos," said Harris, who was convicted of killing three women along a wooded area beneath Seattle freeways. The area is known as "The Jungle"- a stretch of undeveloped land under Interstates 5 and 90 frequented by the homeless and drug addicts.

"It's more of us (killers)," Harris told King County Superior Court Judge Marsha Pechman, adding that his imprisonment would not keep her and others safe in their homes and apartments.

Harris added that justice, for the victims and their families, could not be served no matter how much prison time he received because he was still alive and still had certain privileges, even in prison.

"I'll still (be) walking (around) the (prison) yard. I still got radios, TV. I'm still gonna kick it (live his life)," Harris asserted.

During his trial, he shouted obscenities at the judge, pushed chairs and tossed objects and argued continually with the prosecutor.

Harris, 35, sat strapped to a restraining chair yesterday, nibbling on candy and occasionally smiling as Pechman imposed the 94-year sentence.

"I have never run into anyone who has shown the kind of lack of reverence for human life," the judge told Harris.

Harris was convicted last month, after three days of jury deliberations, of first-degree murder in the deaths of Denise Marie Harris, 42; Antoinette Jones, 34; and Olivia Smith, 27.

He had confessed in May, while in jail on an unrelated robbery charge, to killing all three women. But last month, during the trial, Harris recanted, saying he had killed only one of the victims.

"I just snapped," Harris testified during the trial, recounting how he killed Smith."I cannot lie. I snapped. I did kill her. That's the God's truth. I don't have to lie (about killing) Olivia Smith."

Attorney John Hicks, who represented Harris, said he did not believe his client was evil but rather "a part of a disturbed society that is responsible for producing extremely damaged and dangerous human beings."

King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff Baird suggested Harris'actions were especially difficult to accept.

"You get affected in different ways by every case," he said. "But the sad thing is that he exploited (the victims') vulnerability. He exploited their weakness. . . and that kind of predation is really repugnant.

"I don't think he has a really good appreciation for feelings of remorse."

Ronald K. Fitten's phone message number is 206-464-3251. His e-mail address is: rfitten@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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