Voodoo or other religious practices of the defendant in an Osage County murder trial will be excluded from evidence unless the prosecution directly ties them to the commission of the crime, the court ruled Tuesday.
The ruling from Osage County Chief Judge Phillip Fromme came during a motions hearing in the case of James P. Harris, 30, who is charged with first degree murder in the death of 49-year-old James E. Gerety. Prosecutors allege Harris killed Gerety sometime between March 3, 2011, and April 20, 2011. Gerety’s death was discovered after Shirley Johnson, who lives in rural Carbondale, found a part of a skull while searching for mushrooms near her residence in March 2012.
During the Oct. 28 motions hearing, Harris’ attorney, James Campbell, argued that testimony about voodoo and other affiliations could be prejudicial to the defendant.