Court Rules Prosecutor Calling Defendant "Murderous Coward" OK

Knoxville (AP) -- A State Appellate Court has upheld a Knox County murder conviction, ruling the prosecutor calling the defendant a "murderous coward" didn't prejudice the case.

Christopher Shane Harrell had appealed his conviction and life prison term.

Harrell claimed his rights were violated when prosecutor Randy Nichols described him as a coward. Harrell was accused of tying up his former girlfriend, stashing her in the attic of her family's home in November 2003 and waiting for her parents to return, then shooting them.

Judge Robert Wedemeyer wrote the Court of Criminal Appeals ruling, saying Harrell failed to prove anything said during the state's closing argument affected the verdict.

Wedemeyer wrote that the state presented a strong case against the defendant, and much of the evidence was undisputed.

Police said Harrell broke into Lee and Rosemary Moody's house and shot them both. The man died, but his wife was able to get out of the house and summon help.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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