Thursday, April 10, 2014 - 1:34 p.m.

Is Ed Harbison telling the truth about what happened with Jerry Shaw?Ed Harbison is the son of Magnolia Harbison, a Yoknapatawpha Acres nursing home resident. Detectives Armstrong and Murphy re-interviewed him at the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department. The interview was recorded with the witness's knowledge and consent.

Participants:

  • Detective T. Armstrong
  • Detective S. Murphy
  • Ed Harbison

Detective Murphy: Good afternoon, Mr. Harbison. Thanks for coming in today. Please state your name and address for the record.

Ed Harbison: I'm not sure it's such a good afternoon, Detective. This is the third time you've wanted to ask me questions. I have work to do, and frankly, I don't have time for this today.

Detective Murphy: We're so sorry if we've inconvenienced you. Please state your name and address for the record.

Ed Harbison: I'm Ed Harbison, and I live at 1620 Garfield Avenue in Oxford. And this is a waste of my time. Shaw got what was coming to him and so did Landrigan.

Detective Armstrong: Before we get started, you understand that you have the right to remain silent and that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law?

Ed Harbison: What are you saying? Are you arresting me?

Detective Armstrong: No, we're just advising you of your rights. It's routine at this stage of an investigation, but they make us do it. Do you understand that you can remain silent?

Ed Harbison: Yeah.

Detective Armstrong: You also have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand that?

Ed Harbison: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: With those rights in mind, are you willing to talk to us?

Ed Harbison: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: That's great. Would you just sign this form confirming that we advised you of your rights and you're waiving them at this time?

Ed Harbison: Is all of this really necessary?

Detective Armstrong: There's nothing a bureaucracy loves more than paperwork.

Ed Harbison: Fine. Give it here.

Detective Murphy: So, Ed, remember when we talked a couple weeks ago about your mother wanting Jerry Shaw to hang a clock for her?

Ed Harbison: Yeah?

Detective Murphy: And you said you couldn't remember whether you were there when she talked to him about it?

Ed Harbison: OK.

Detective Murphy: We've been told that not only were you there, but you talked to him yourself about it.

Ed Harbison: If you say so.

Detective Murphy: You don't recall that?

Ed Harbison: Not offhand.

Detective Murphy: It was the day Jerry was murdered.

Ed Harbison: Oh yeah?

Detective Armstrong: A word of advice, Ed?

Ed Harbison: Sure.

Detective Armstrong: Just come clean with us. Keeping up like this isn't going to work. We already know.

Ed Harbison: What are you talking about?

Detective Murphy: You told us you checked in at the front desk at 2:30 p.m. on the day Jerry was murdered, and you said you left about 45 or 50 minutes later but nobody was at the desk so no one saw you leave.

Ed Harbison: That's right.

Detective Armstrong: And that's a good story, except we talked to the receptionist. She clearly remembers clocking back in from her break at 3:10. She sat down at her desk and stayed there till she left for home at 4:30. How's about you explain how it's possible she didn't see you?

Ed Harbison: Maybe she was bending down to pick something up off the floor or maybe she took a bathroom break and forgot to tell you. How should I know? You don't have to be the sharpest tack in the box to work the front desk of the Acres, you know. I didn't see anybody when I left. That's all I can tell you.

Detective Murphy: You're sure you went out the front door?

Ed Harbison: What other way would I go out?

Detective Armstrong: How about that emergency exit near your mom's room?

Ed Harbison: If I went out that way, the alarm would go off.

Detective Armstrong: Would it?

Ed Harbison: Wouldn't it?

Detective Murphy: Have you ever been out behind the nursing home where the dumpster is?

Ed Harbison: No.

Detective Armstrong: I think he said that before.

Detective Murphy: You know what? You're right. He did.

Ed Harbison: Then why are you asking me again? Why are you asking me all of these things again? I've already answered all these questions.

Detective Murphy: When you asked Jerry to hang your mother's clock, did he do it?

Ed Harbison: No. He wanted me to "tip" him to do it, which I wasn't about to do.

Detective Murphy: That must've made you mad.

Ed Harbison: Well, it didn't make me happy. I was sick and tired of the way he treated my mother, always wanting money for every little thing. He was a leech, but I never laid a hand on him, if that's where you're going with this.

Detective Armstrong: Why don't you just fess up, Ed? I know you feel guilty about sticking your mother in the Acres, but I'm sure you didn't have any other choice.

Ed Harbison: Yeah, I admit it. I do feel guilty about moving my mother there, but we couldn't take care of her at home anymore. And I may have hated Jerry, but I didn't touch him.

Detective Murphy: But some people might call you a deadly weapon, wouldn't they? You told us you teach karate, but that's not the whole story. You're a second degree black belt in both Hapkido and Taekwondo, right?

Ed Harbison: Yeah, so what? I hold two black belts, but I don't consider myself a deadly weapon and neither does the law. I study martial arts to keep in shape, and I teach kids discipline. What the hell does all this have to do with anything?

Detective Armstrong: I don't know. If some punk was abusing my mother, I'd want to beat the crap out of him too, especially if I could take him down with a karate chop or two like you.

Ed Harbison: If you mean a knifehand strike, I— what do you mean "abusing my mother"?

Detective Armstrong: She told you Jerry was hurting her, didn't she?

Ed Harbison: Who told you that?

Detective Armstrong: She did, Ed. I think you'll feel better if you get this off your chest and tell us what happened.

Ed Harbison: You're just trying to pin this on me because you can't find the real killer.

Detective Armstrong: We have found the real killer. Jerry upset your mother when he refused to put that clock up for her, didn't he? And she just kept after you and kept after you about it. It must've been nerve-racking the way she just wouldn't let it go.

Ed Harbison: I told you I didn't kill him. What more do you want from me?

Detective Armstrong: We want the truth, Ed.

Ed Harbison: I already told you the truth, and you won't listen. I'm sick of this crap. I'm out of here!

Detective Armstrong: I don't think you're going anywhere right now, so just sit down.

Ed Harbison: What? What do you want me to say?

Detective Armstrong: You were angry with Jerry because he wouldn't hang your mother's clock, right?

Ed Harbison: It was very… frustrating.

Detective Armstrong: And then when your mother told you Jerry had hurt her, you were even more upset, weren't you?

Ed Harbison: Anyone would be.

Detective Armstrong: So you followed him out to the dumpster and you killed him.

Ed Harbison: I never went back there.

Detective Murphy: Never?

Ed Harbison: No!

Detective Murphy: Then how did your fingerprints get on the dumpster?

Ed Harbison: What the… what do you know?

Detective Murphy: I know that sometimes accidents happen. And if what happened between you and Jerry was an accident, you need to tell us right now. If not… if you killed him on purpose, well, some people may understand why, but it won't matter. You'll still go to prison for the rest of your life. Your wife and kids, eventually they'll move on without you. Your kids will get married and have their own kids, and you won't be there to see it. Your wife will get tired of being alone all the time, and she'll divorce you so she can find a new husband who'll actually be around. And—

Ed Harbison: All right! So what if I killed him? He deserved that and more for how he treated my mother. But it was just a freak accident. I never meant for him to die, but I'm not sorry he's dead. As far as I'm concerned, he was asking for it. He was a worthless excuse for a human being.

Detective Murphy: Tell us what happened that day.

Ed Harbison: When I got to Mother's room, she was distraught about the clock. She said Jerry told her he wouldn't hang it up unless we paid him. She was so worked up that she blurted out how he hurt her every time he touched her and she thought he was doing it on purpose.

Detective Murphy: What did you say?

Ed Harbison: I asked her how she could keep something like that from me, and she said she was afraid he would hurt her more if she told me.

Detective Armstrong: Did you believe her?

Ed Harbison: Are you calling my mother a liar?

Detective Armstrong: No, but last time we talked, you indicated that you don't always take your mother's complaints seriously because she complains so much.

Ed Harbison: If she had told me he was hurting her, I would've taken that seriously. I love my mother.

Detective Murphy: OK. She told you Jerry was hurting her. Then what happened?

Ed Harbison: Then I was furious. Mother paged Jerry to her room so I could talk to him. When he got there, I told him he better start doing his job and get that clock hung that afternoon.

Detective Murphy: What did he say to that?

Ed Harbison: He said hanging a clock wasn't in his job description, but he could make an exception if he had the right incentive. I told him I wasn't going to give him even one red cent, so he left.

Detective Murphy: And then?

Ed Harbison: I was livid, but I decided to let it go. He wasn't worth it. That's when Mother started in on me again. She demanded that I go after him and make him pay. She said it was the least I could do to prove I loved her and to make up for "dumping her in this putrid hellhole." That's a quote. I'll never forget it.

Detective Murphy: Did you do what she asked?

Ed Harbison: Not exactly.

Detective Armstrong: You gotta tell us the whole thing, Ed, if you want the DA to cut you a break. You leave anything out, you spend the rest of your days behind bars with a roommate who's a lot less attractive than your pretty wife.

Ed Harbison: Stop saying that! I told Mother she was talking crazy, that I wasn't going to go after Jerry and "make him pay." That just made her lay into me even more. I got fed up and I didn't want to say something to her that I'd regret, so I left. I was so pissed, I just went out the emergency exit right by Mother's room.

Detective Murphy: I thought you said the alarm would go off if you did that.

Ed Harbison: Yeah, well… it's easy to turn off. Heck, I saw Albert do it one time. That's how I found out about it.

Detective Murphy: OK. You went out the emergency exit and then?

Ed Harbison: And then I immediately regretted it because that door locks behind you if you don't prop it open with something, which I didn't. I'd parked out front, so I was going to have to walk all the way around the building.

Detective Murphy: What did you do?

Ed Harbison: I knew there had to be a door back by the kitchen, and I thought maybe I could sneak in that way and go through instead of around. Big mistake.

Detective Murphy: Why?

Ed Harbison: Because I ran into Jerry. He was standing by the dumpster with that big stupid grin on his face. He told me I better pony up or my mother would be the one who paid, and then the argument was on. It was just verbal until he pushed me. Then I instinctively went offensive and struck him on the neck with the side of my hand.

Detective Armstrong: You karate-chopped him?

Ed Harbison: Fine. Yes.

Detective Armstrong: Once?

Ed Harbison: Yes.

Detective Armstrong: How did he get the bruise on his forehead?

Ed Harbison: Maybe he hit it when he fell. Maybe someone else hit him before I got there. I don't know.

Detective Murphy: What did Jerry do when you hit him?

Ed Harbison: Nothing. He crumbled to the ground. I was shocked, stunned. I didn't even hit him that hard. I've hit people harder when we were sparring, and no one ever died or even fell down. I don't know what happened.

Detective Murphy: What did you do then?

Ed Harbison: I took off.

Detective Murphy: There were nurses right inside. Why didn't you go get help?

Ed Harbison: I couldn't find a pulse. I knew he was dead. There wasn't anything they could've done. Besides, I figured it was karma or the hand of God or poetic justice. Call it what you want, but he got what was coming to him.

Detective Armstrong: That's what you figured, huh?

Ed Harbison: Can't you see he deserved it? What are you doing? Get your hands off me! You can't put me in jail for ridding the world of a monster.

Detective Murphy: Ed Harbison, you're under arrest for the murder of Jerry Shaw. Stand up and put your hands behind you.

Ed Harbison: You said if I told you what happened, you wouldn't arrest me.

Detective Murphy: No, Ed. That's not what we said at all.

Ed Harbison: Oh God, what have I done? What about my wife? My kids? Who's going to look after my mother now?

Detective Murphy: You'd be better off if you'd thought of that sooner.

Interview ends - 2:18 p.m.

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