Winston-Salem man convicted in 17-year-old boy’s death in 2014


Danny Joe Harris

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — The fatal drive-by shooting of a 17-year-old boy in 2014 was the culmination of a series of altercations that began when a woman alleged that a group of young people had broken into her house and ransacked it, a Forsyth County prosecutor said Wednesday.

At first, angry words were exchanged. That escalated to beer bottles being thrown and a threat of more violence if the woman’s belongings weren’t returned. And finally, witnesses told police that two men in a black SUV fired guns at the house. Danny Joe Harris, a student at Main Street Academy, an alternative school for middle and high-school students, died from a gunshot wound. Janisha Crawford, who was on the porch of the house, was shot in the left leg, causing part of it to be amputated.

On Wednesday, William Darnell Ruth III, 26, of Timlic Avenue, entered an Alford plea in Forsyth Superior Court to involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting serious injury in connection with Harris’ death and Crawford’s injury. An Alford plea means that Ruth did not admit guilt but acknowledged that Forsyth County prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him if the case had gone to trial.

Ruth had initially been charged with second-degree murder. Judge Andy Cromer of Forsyth Superior Court sentenced Ruth to a year and six months to two years and eight months on the involuntary manslaughter charge. Cromer gave Ruth a suspended sentence of two years and five months to three years and 11 months on the assault charge and placed Ruth on supervised probation for five years. Ruth still has to serve an additional active sentence of six months.

Read more: Winston-Salem Journal

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