Attorneys began picking a jury Monday to hear the shocking double-murder case of a mother and child fatally shot in Columbus’ Oakland Park neighborhood in 2012.
The defendant is Vince Harris, who reported finding the bodies of his girlfriend Tina Green Hall and her 6-year-old son in their home at Howe Avenue and Wise Street on Feb. 24, 2012. Each had been shot in the chest.
Authorities initially concluded the 47-year-old mother shot her son Jeremy and then herself, but some detectives never believed that, nor did people who knew the woman well and afterward spoke of how much she loved her son.
Police Sgt. Randy Long, the department’s cold-case investigator, continued pursuing the case until he found evidence that didn’t fit a murder-suicide.
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Police arrested Harris, 57, on Dec. 22, 2014, at his downtown residence, charging him with two counts of murder.
Though a police report at first said the mother and child died sometime between Feb. 24, a Friday, and 2:30 p.m. the Tuesday before, when Jeremy was last seen at Columbus’ Key Elementary School, detectives later said the two most likely died the day they were found.
Friends and family said the mother was a supervisor at the Fort Benning Burger King, and was entirely devoted to her son.
Karen Garner, the Key Elementary principal in 2012, told the Ledger-Enquirer the mother was a regular there.
“She was a very active member of our school. ... She loved her little boy,” the principal said.
“Jeremy was a fun-loving kid,” she added. “He liked to laugh. He loved cars and Legos. We’ll miss him.”
Harris remained in jail until May 2015, when defense attorney Stacey Jackson persuaded Judge Ron Mullins to grant his client a bond, enabling his release.
Jackson told Mullins that Harris was a former corrections officer and father of five who had lived in Columbus since 1993, and presented no risk of running from the law or harassing witnesses in the case against him. Harris by law was entitled to a bond then, having been jailed more than 90 days with no indictment.
Attorneys started sifting through a jury pool at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Mullins’ courtroom on the 10th floor of the Columbus Government Center. Assistant District Attorney George Lipscomb will lead the prosecution.
If convicted, Harris faces life in prison.