Crime - Sacto 911

Crime Q&A: What happened to teens accused of stabbing transient in Sacramento park?

Q: What happened to the pair of teenagers, one a juvenile but both from San Andreas, who stabbed a homeless man to death in midtown in 1985 or 1986? They lived in a house near 10th and T streets.

John, Sacramento

A: Eric Harris and Reid Miller were arrested and charged with murder in the stabbing death of Jerome Huot, a 41-year-old transient whose body was found in Southside Park near downtown Sacramento on Sept. 28, 1985.

Harris was 18 at the time and Miller was 17. Harris had moved to Sacramento from San Andreas to attend college and Miller reportedly had arrived a while later. They shared a 10th Street apartment. The two were arrested on Dec. 5, 1985, after they bragged about the killing at a party, police said.

Both were later given an opportunity to plead guilty to a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter. Miller accepted the plea and was sentenced to a maximum of a year at Sacramento County Boys Ranch, according to stories in The Sacramento Bee.

Harris opted for a non-jury trial before a judge, who reluctantly acquitted him.

“I want it clear, Mr. Harris, that when you read the headlines in the newspaper that you are found innocent – you were not found innocent, you were found not guilty,” Superior Court Judge Allen P. Fields told Harris. The judge said he found a lack of proof to prove Harris guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Harris and Reid each maintained that the other inflicted the fatal blows.

Harris testified that Miller was angry over an argument he had had with a woman and the two youths walked to the park. Harris said they were briefly separated and he suddenly found Miller in a fight with Huot. Harris testified that he grabbed Huot, threw him to the ground, kicked him, then ran. He said Miller stayed and repeatedly stabbed Huot with a knife.

Miller said he was assaulted by a knife-wielding man and that he wrested the weapon from his assailant. Miller said he stabbed at Huot’s chest once or twice. It was Harris, he said, who stabbed Huot at least twice in the back.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy