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Ask Sacto 911 crime Q&A: What happened to Sacramento man accused of killing wife’s attorney divorce case?

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 - 12:00 am

There was a family law lawyer by the first name of “Frank” that was gunned down in his downtown Sacramento office sometime between 1996 and 1998. The gunman was later apprehended at his home. Whatever happened to him?

– Ron, Orangevale

Timmothy Howard Harris was convicted of first-degree murder in the July 3, 1997, shooting death of family law attorney Francis W. “Bud” Zilaff and sentenced to 58 years to life in prison.

According to stories in The Bee, Harris walked into Zilaff’s midtown Sacramento office at 2:20 p.m. wearing a mask and surgical gloves, and ordered four employees to give up their wallets and drop to the ground. He then walked directly into Zilaff’s office and shot him in the upper torso without saying a word.

Friends said Zilaff, 68, a respected lawyer who had been active in the Sacramento County Bar Association, was preparing to retire from his practice.

Harris was a former state welterweight boxing champion whose ex-wife had been a client of Zilaff’s. The couple’s bitter divorce case reportedly stemmed from physical abuse by Timmothy Harris.

Investigators zeroed in on Harris immediately after the shooting because a Zilaff employee got the license number of Harris’ car as he fled. He was taken into custody at his south Sacramento home.

Harris, who initially sought to represent himself in the murder case, maintained that he did not shoot Zilaff and likened his trial to a kangaroo court.

Now 57 years old, Harris is incarcerated at California State Prison, Los Angeles County in Lancaster.


Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Read more articles by Cathy Locke



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