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Prosecutor: Fatal shooting of Wichita woman was no accident

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, June 5, 2013, at 12:17 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 31, 2013, at 3 p.m.

Ronald Harner had a concealed-carry permit and knew his way around firearms, a prosecutor told a Sedgwick County jury Wednesday.

Assistant District Attorney Donna Longsworth asked the jury to discount Harner’s claim that he accidentally shot and killed Jolie Crosby while trying to unload a .38-caliber revolver.

“He didn’t shoot her in the leg,” Longsworth said in her opening statement at Harner’s trial. “He didn’t shoot out the front door. He shot her in the head.”

Harner, 48, of Hutchinson, is charged with intentional second-degree murder in the June 2, 2012, death of Crosby, who was shot once in the head in the living room of her home in the 8400 block of East Greenbriar Court in Wichita’s Tallgrass neighborhood.

The shooting occurred while four girls – three of Crosby’s and one of Harner’s – were sleeping in the home. Jolie Crosby’s oldest daughter, Caroline Crosby, now 15, was among the state’s first witnesses. She told the jury that she was awakened about 5:30 a.m. by a loud pop and the sound of Harner screaming. She said she found her mother motionless on the couch.

“I thought she was asleep at first,” the girl testified.

“Did you see any injuries?” Longsworth asked.

“There was gunshot on the right side of her head,” Caroline Crosby said.

The jury later listened to a tape of Caroline Crosby’s call to 911.

“Who shot your mom?” the dispatcher asked at one point.

“Ron Harner,” Caroline Crosby said.

“Ron Harner? Is he still there?”

“Yes.”

“Does he still have a gun?”

“No.”

“Are you sure he did it?”

“He kept saying that he didn’t mean to do it…. He was screaming ‘Oh my God!’ over and over again.”

“Were they fighting before it happened?”

“I don’t know. I was asleep.”

Longsworth told the jury that Harner and Crosby dated off and on for three years before the relationship ended in the spring of 2012, in large part because of Harner’s excessive drinking. They began seeing each other again shortly before the shooting, she said.

On the night before the shooting, Longsworth said, Harner and Crosby drove to Hutchinson to get Harner’s boat, and Harner was arrested on suspicion of DUI on the way back. Crosby bonded him out of jail, Longsworth said, and Harner continued to drink beer when they got back to Crosby’s house.

It was after Crosby asked Harner to unload the gun, Longsworth said, that the gun discharged while the two were in the living room.

Defense lawyer John O’Connor of Kansas City, Mo., did not make an opening statement. The trial is being held in the courtroom of District Judge Joseph Bribiesca.

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