Michael Harris, the local Eastern Sierra man who was convicted by a jury of 18 counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under the age of 14 as well as one count of forcible rape on a female child under the age of 14 and at least seven years younger than her perpetrator last December, was sentenced today, April 9, at the Mammoth Branch of the Mono County Superior Court.
Judge David DeVore sentenced Harris to 285 years to life in a state prison. The number was based on the maximum punishment of 15 years to life, consecutive, for each of the 19 counts. Harris will also be required to register as a sex offender and was ordered to have no type of contact (mail, e-mail, etc.) with any of the three victims.
Judge DeVore stated he was giving the maximum sentence because he believed none of the offenses had occurred on a single occasion.
The twin girls that were the main focus of the trial both read statements at the sentencing. One of the girls claimed what Harris had done made her a stronger person, and that he should have “thought with the head on top of his body and not the one that hangs.”
Her sister stated that her right to be a child was taken away from her. “The only thing I truly own was taken away from me, my virginity,” she stated.
The third victim was not present at the sentencing.
Judge DeVore did allow Harris to speak before the final sentence was given. Harris started by trying to turn and look at the victims sitting in the audience and address them, but DeVore quickly reprimanded him and said he was only allowed to address the court. Harris claimed his character in the community did not match the allegations and stated that the victims had lied.
“How much am I being railroaded through the system to appellate court so that Mono County doesn’t have to foot the bill,” he asked.
Harris has been trying to get a new trial based on claims of jury misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel, but Judge DeVore denied all requests.
Harris turned in his paperwork to have the case sent to the State Court of Appeals directly after Judge DeVore sentenced him.