JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - A former Metairie resident faces up to 40 years in prison after he was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl.
Marcus Harris, 40, was convicted as charged Friday night of the forcible rape of the teenager who was sexually assaulted in her bed in February 2010. The victim, now 21, testified this week that Harris, with whom she was acquainted, entered her bedroom as she was going to sleep and tickled her before raping her.
"I didn't do nothing, because I was scared," she recounted in tearful testimony. "I didn't know what to do."
Afterward, she thought, "What should I do? Should I say something? Or should I keep quiet?"
Prosecutors in Jefferson Parish say she disclosed the abuse at her school the following day, leading to an investigation by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. Within hours of the disclosure, the Sheriff's Office recovered evidence from the house in which the rape occurred, including the victim's bed linens, detective Sgt. Randall Fernandez testified.
Harris' DNA was found in seminal stains and skin cells on the bed sheets, according to testimony. Statistically speaking, the probability that the genetic material belongs to someone other than Harris is only greater than one in 100 billion, DNA analyst Sarah Serou of the JPSO Regional DNA Laboratory testified.
Serou's findings led the Sheriff's Office to obtain an arrest warrant, Fernandez testified.
The victim testified this week that she felt "disgusting" after he raped her, and that she "hated myself for the longest."
"I forgive Marcus, because I'm a Christian," the victim testified. "But I will never forget what happened."
Harris did not testify. The defense depicted the victim as an emotionally troubled youth and suggested she planted the seminal fluid on her bed sheets. Harris' mother, two brothers and his sister-in-law testified for his defense, primarily to call the victim's credibility into question.
Soon after the rape investigation began, Harris pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge of second-degree battery of his then 19-year-old girlfriend, for which he received a four-year sentence. The rape investigation proceeded, leading to charges being filed in court after he completed that sentence.
The sentence for forcible rape is five years to 40 years in prison. Judge Ellen Shirer Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Harris on Sept. 26.