It’s a bittersweet day for Charlene Gomez and Daniel Harris Sr., the parents of 30-year-old Daniel Harris who was shot and killed inside the Haines Stackfield American Legion in Carlisle in 2016.
The man who committed the murder, 41-year-old Robert Anderson, of Carlisle, was sentenced by a jury Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, after less than two hours of deliberation.
He had faced the possibility of a death sentence.
“I’ve lost my son and someone else is losing their son,” Gomez said. “This situation put me in a position that I never wanted to be in, and I never want to be in again.”
Police said Anderson walked into the American Legion on West Penn Street around 12:45 a.m. June 11, 2016, and shot Harris seven times.
After more than a week of testimony and nearly two days of deliberation, Anderson was convicted Friday of first-degree murder, felony possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
“It is unfortunate that two people’s lives were ruined because of violence,” Daniel Harris Sr. said. “We have to get better as a community. I would just hope that the people of Carlisle take advantage of the situation here and come together as one ... We need to stick together and we need to get betters.”
In sentencing Anderson, the jury found several mitigating factors including that Anderson believed he was protecting his family when he killed Harris and that Anderson’s childhood filled with violence outweighed the aggravating factor of Anderson being prohibited from possessing a firearm and therefore committing the murder while engaged in another felony.
The jury did not unanimously find that Anderson placed anyone else in the club in "grave risk of death" during the murder, which was another possible aggravating circumstance.
During the trial, Senior Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Metzger described Anderson as the “protector” of his family.
Metzger said Harris’ murder was the culmination of more than a year of violence between Harris and Anderson and members of Anderson’s family and friends.
In January 2016, Anderson was shot, and Harris was the prime suspect. Prior to that, Harris was slashed across the face and body with a razor, and a member of Anderson’s family was the prime suspect.
No arrest resulted from either incident due to lack of cooperation from witnesses. This was the case with several shootings and violent encounters surrounding Anderson and Harris.
During a news conference Monday afternoon Carlisle Police Chief Taro Landis called for the community to work with the police, rather than take matters into their own hands, and to help end the cycles of violence.
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“This is not the way to do things,” Landis said. “What I tell you today to the people of my community, the people of Carlisle, it has to end. The idea that ‘snitches get stitches,’ the idea that we don’t cooperate with the police, it has to end. Violence will return more violence.”
The sentence for Anderson is set for his first-degree murder conviction, but he will appear in front of President Judge Edward Guido, who presided over the trial, at 9:30 a.m. March 12 to formally be sentenced.
Posted earlier on Cumberlink:
The man convicted in the Haines-Stackfield American Legion shooting last week was sentenced Monday to life without parole after a death penalty hearing phase.
Robert Anderson on Friday had been convicted of first-degree murder after a week-long trial in the 2016 fatal shooting of Daniel "D.J." Harris in Carlisle.
The trial moved into the death penalty phase on Saturday, and continued on Monday.
The jury picked life without parole instead of death.
During the death penalty phase, the jury looked at aggravating circumstances - in this case that Anderson committed a murder in the commission of a felony since he was not supposed to possess a firearm. The jury did not unanimously find that the shooting put other people at "grave risk of death," which was a second potential aggravating circumstance.
The jury found multiple mitigating factors including that Anderson felt he was protecting his family by killing Harris, that Anderson had a strong work ethic, and his life experience, which includes a history of childhood violence.
Anderson will appear in front of President Judge Edward Guido at 9:30 a.m. March 12 to be formally sentenced to life without parole. Guido will also issue sentences for other charges, including misdemeanor reckless endangerment and felony person not to possess a firearm.
Check back to Cumberlink.com for more on this story.