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: Man Arraigned In Drive-By Shooting (Messenger Report)  ( 2118 )
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« : August 21, 2005, 11:21:03 AM »

Saturday August 20, 2005

Man arraigned in drive-by shooting

Messenger Staff Writer
ST. ALBANS CITY –– “You guys didn’t do anything about Kenny’s murder, and the Harrnesses killed my friend.”

That is what Vermont State Police said Sheldon resident Timothy Callan, 33, told an officer early Friday morning after he was arrested for allegedly firing a gun at Dennis Harrness’ home.

At Vermont District Court Friday, Callan, a custodian at the St. Albans Town Educational Center, denied allegations that he drunkenly fired two bullets at Harrness’s home while Harrness’s wife, Billie, was alone inside. She was not injured.

Billie Harrness told reporters after Callan’s arraignment that the incident scared her. Also, Stephen Harrness, Dennis’s father, said his family was not involved in the July 7 murder of Callan’s friend, Kenneth Jerome.

Callan pleaded not guilty to DWI (first offense), aggravated assault, and attempting to elude police. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 18 years in prison and nearly $12,000 in fines.

Judge Mark Keller ordered Callan held on $10,000 bail, which could be posted via cash or property.

The state asked for $20,000 bail. Billie Harrness wanted Callan held, period. She and her friends called Keller’s ruling “a slap in the face.”

“This man tried to kill me,” Billie said tearfully, as a friend escorted her out of the courthouse, along with her father-in-law and other friends. “It’s attempted murder. … We were terrified. I think he should be put away. It’s unfair. He tried to take my life.”

Callan is accused of driving by Dennis Harrness’ home at 3 a.m. Friday and firing two rounds from a Savage .243-caliber rifle. One of the bullets entered the home and struck a desk just a few feet from where Billie Harrness stood, she said.

Billie was alone when the first shot was fired. Her mother-in-law and neighbor, Shirley Harrness, was with her when the second round was fired.

VSP troopers who drove to the scene allege that Callan led them on a 2-mile chase before he struck a telephone pole with his 1993 Subaru Impreza and then traveled about 70 feet off the roadway.

Police found a rifle in Callan’s car and a half-full bottle of vodka on the driver’s side floor, according to an affidavit penned by VSP Tpr. Matthew Hill. Callan’s blood-alcohol content was .179 percent at 5:30 Friday morning, more than twice the legal limit.

Callan told Hill he was drinking at The Abbey restaurant in Sheldon until 11 or 11:30 p.m. Thursday. He then drove home, grabbed his gun and headed to East Sheldon Road, where the Harrnesses live, according to court records.

East Sheldon Road is also where Jerome, 33, died of a single gunshot wound to the chest in July, while he worked at Diamond Hill Custom Heifers Farm. The investigation into Jerome’s death is still pending. Police have not arrested anyone nor have they named any suspects.

Callan said he was drunk, frustrated about Jerome’s murder, and sorry for shooting at the Harrness home, according to Hill.

Callan’s criminal record lists two prior convictions for attempting to outrun police and one charge of negligent operation of a motor vehicle, which was amended from DWI. He stared stoically at the defense table during his arraignment yesterday, wearing gray sweatpants and a striped short-sleeved golf shirt.

Dennis Harrness, 36, is being held without bail for allegedly violating probation on an earlier arson-related conviction after he tested positive for cocaine use.

He was found guilty in January of counseling his now ex-wife, Jennifer Miller, to burn their mobile home in 2001. In April, he received a two-to-five-year suspended sentence, with probation. Miller, as the state’s witness, was granted immunity.

Dennis also awaits trial for allegedly setting fire to his brother Thomas’s home in 1999. Dennis was to face a jury in St. Albans City this month. A judge in late July moved the trial to St. Johnsbury, because the Harrnesses have been mentioned in media coverage of Jerome’s murder.

Jerome and Miller had a child together last November. Court records show a strong history of feuds and threats between them and the Harrnesses that stem from the arson charges.

After Callan’s court appearance yesterday, Stephen Harrness said his family had nothing to do with Jerome’s murder, but that they were the “logical ones” for police to investigate, because he owns the land from which Jerome was shot.

“We’ve been wrongly accused right from the start,” he said.

He blamed Miller for Jerome’s death.

“I know my ex-daughter-in-law,” he said. “I know what she can do. We’ll find she will be at the bottom of it.”

VSP Det. Ralph Chilton said he could not comment on whether Miller is a person of interest in Jerome’s murder, because the investigation is still open.

Henry Raymond
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