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Witness tampering alleged

by Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

The father of a suspect in a February stabbing in Platte City has been arrested for tampering with witnesses.

Stephen Harris, 45, of North Kansas City, has been charged with tampering with a victim/witness in a felony prosecution. Harris is currently being held in the Platte County Detention Center on $25,000 cash only bond.

Harris' son James Harris, 18, of North Kansas City, allegedly stabbed two people in February at 1820 Gates Drive West in Platte City. James Harris is also in the Platte County Detention Center charged with one count of first degree assault, one count of second degree assault, two counts of armed criminal action, and one count of stealing. His bond was set at $150,000 cash only.

After the stabbing, bystanders at the address subdued James Harris until police arrived on the scene.

The incident allegedly began when Harris was accused of stealing an Xbox from the home. The Xbox was later found in the trunk of his vehicle.

According to a probable cause statement, Stephen Harris allegedly made contact with the mother of Alyssa Taylor, 19, of Platte City, one of the stabbing victims. Taylor was transported to Liberty hospital and treated for a puncture to her liver.

James Harris also allegedly slashed the hand of Kyle Williams, 20, of North Kansas City, after he attempted to intervene in the incident.

On the same day as the stabbing, Williams was leaving North Kansas City Hospital when Harris allegedly offered him a ride home. Williams told police that Harris said “Maybe you can come up with a better story to tell the police.”

Williams said he responded, “No, what I told the police was the truth, and I'm not going to change it.” Harris also allegedly asked who had been involved in subduing his son.

While James Harris was subdued he sustained serious head injuries and was treated at North Kansas City Hospital.

On February 24, Stephen Harris was interviewed by the Platte City Police about his knowledge of the stabbing incident. He was also advised to not have any further contact with victims, witnesses or their families.

On June 15, the uncle of Williams said Harris had contacted him twice. The uncle said he was at his home several weeks prior in North Kansas City and while smoking noticed someone standing in his backyard while it was raining heavily.

The uncle said that Harris was wearing all black clothing, black shoes, and a black hat and was soaking wet. According to the uncle, Harris said he wanted to talk to Williams and didn't want the police to see him.

Harris allegedly said, “Well if he could change his story my son wouldn't be where he's at.” He also allegedly said, “I know Kyle and Alyssa just want money, so I just need to pay them off now.”

The uncle said Harris talked about giving Williams $15,000 to $20,000 and then “disappearing.”

The uncle said Harris had also approached him on June 6 while leaving Bossert's Military Supply.

According to the uncle, Harris wanted to talk, but the uncle said he did not want to talk because he had heard Harris had tried to put a “hit” on Williams.

Harris allegedly denied the allegation and again said he wanted to pay Williams $15,000 to $20,000, “because I know him and Alyssa wants money, and if I can just get him out of the way everything will work out better.”

The uncle said he would not set up a meeting with Harris.

Harris also allegedly said, “If Kyle just takes the money and disappears, everything will be fine, things will work out better.”

On June 19, the Platte City Police interviewed a man who stated he had been contacted by Harris about a month and a half previously. According to the probable cause statement, Harris talked about spying on the other people involved in the incident and trying to keep them from going to court.

The man said Harris allegedly asked if he knew anyone who would “take people out.” The man said he took this to mean Harris wanted someone killed, but Harris never mentioned who he wanted to have killed.

The man also reported that Harris had allegedly asked if he could get a “throw away.” The man explained that this meant a cheap untraceable gun.

During an interview with Harris by police, he denied trying to pay Williams and said the uncle had brought up the idea of money. Harris also denied asking the man to get a gun for him or keeping people from going to court. Harris said the other man had offered being able to get a gun and offered to keep people from going to court.

When Harris was arrested his bond was set at $5,000. A preliminary hearing was held on Tuesday for a request to reduce Harris' bond, however Judge Daniel Czamanske actually increased Harris' bond to $25,000 cash only.

According to court records, Harris is being represented by Lyle Odo, attorney. Another preliminary hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, August 4 at 10 a.m.

If convicted of victim tampering, Harris faces up to seven years in prison.

A hearing for James Harris is scheduled for Thursday, July 16 at 9 a.m. to consider reducing his bond from $150,000. Court records show Harris is represented by Kevin Baldwin, attorney. The judge for the case is Judge Owens Lee Hull.

James Harris faces up to life in prison if convicted.

Two lawsuits were filed against James Harris on March 17, one by each of the victims. The lawsuits in civil court are for damages related to personal injuries. There is no hearing date set for those cases.



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