Towson, MD – The teen convicted of murdering Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio by running her over with a stolen Jeep was sentenced to life in prison on Wednesday.
Dawnta Harris, 17, was also sentenced to another five years for theft and 20 years for burglary, WJZ reported.
The teen’s attorneys had asked the court to sentence him to no more than 30 years in prison.
“I just wish I could go back and not do what I did,” the convicted killer told the court in a letter, which was read by his defense attorney during the sentencing hearing.
Harris did not speak on his own behalf.
Prosecutors said that Harris intentionally ran over Officer Caprio, 29, and that he showed no remorse for killing her, WJZ reported.
Officer Caprio’s husband, Tim Caprio, said his life has been “shattered” by his wife’s murder, WJZ reported.
“Amy was unnecessarily and remorselessly killed,” he told the court.
The fatal encounter occurred on May 20, 2018, after the nearly four-year veteran-of-the-force stumbled upon a burglary in progress while she was investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle, WJZ reported at the time.
According to the Associated Press, police later discovered damage to a patio door at one residence in the area.
Court documents said that Harris admitted to investigators that he was driving the Jeep Wrangler, and that he was waiting in the vehicle while his three accomplices were committing a residential burglary.
When Officer Caprio arrived in the area, Harris said he attempted to flee, but ended up in a cul-de-sac.
Officer Caprio pursued him, then exited her patrol vehicle and demanded that Harris get out of the Jeep, court documents said.
Harris said he opened the driver’s door partway, but that he closed the door again, and “drove at the officer,” the report read.
Officer Caprio fired one shot as the vehicle slammed into her and drove over her body.
Harris then fled the scene in the stolen Jeep, leaving skid marks on the street next to the dying officer.
“She basically landed almost in front of my mailbox,” resident Tony Kurek told The Baltimore Sun.
Kurek called 911, as his other son began performing CPR on the fallen officer, he said.
Officer Caprio was rushed to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 2:50 p.m., WJZ reported.
Harris was arrested “almost immediately” after the murder, Baltimore Police Chief Terrence Sheridan said in a press conference at the time.
His accomplices, 17-year-old Eugene Genius, 16-year-old Derrick Matthews, and 15-year-old Darrell Ward, were apprehended the following day.
Police used Officer Caprio’s handcuffs to make all four arrests.
Early in the investigation, attorneys for Harris held a press conference and called on the state’s attorney’s office to release the fallen officer’s bodycam footage.
Warren Brown and J. Wyndal Gordon flanked the killer’s sobbing mother and told reporters that Officer Caprio’s murder had been an “accident.”
“This was not an intentional killing. It was not deliberate. It was not premeditated. This was an accident. And that’s how we feel about it,” Gordon said.
The attorneys for Harris said their client had no motive to run down Officer Caprio, despite the fact that Harris was violating his house arrest and driving a stolen Jeep Wrangler as a getaway car while his friends committed burglaries nearby when he was stopped.
His lawyers claimed he didn’t know that what his friends were doing.
His attorneys maintained that he didn’t mean to kill the officer.
“He drove away from danger… they make it sound like he drove at her,” Brown complained.
He insisted Harris had no propensity for violence in his background and that it’s a mischaracterization to say that he “murdered” Officer Caprio because he was just trying to get away because he was afraid.
“There wasn’t any intention on his part to strike the officer,” Brown told reporters.
“It’s not to say that he should be patted on the back for that. But I think we need to put things in the correct perspective - he ain’t a killa’. He’s a kid that panicked when a gun was put in his face,” the attorney maintained.
“This was an extremely tragic accident. And it’s not lost on any of us out here that a police officer lost her life in the line of duty. It’s not lost on any of us,” Gordon said.
“But we want to know why Officer Caprio felt it necessary to draw her weapon on a 16-year-old child,” the attorney asked. “We want to know why this was necessary.”
“When you see this young man, he’s a puny five-foot-one, 120-pound young man. You automatically know you’re dealing with a child and not an adult,” Gordon insisted.
But Officer Caprio’s bodycam footage painted a very different picture from what her killer’s attorneys tried to tell the public.
The video showed Officer Caprio as she stood in front of a black Jeep Wrangler that prosecutors said was driven by the then-16-year-old Harris with her weapon drawn.
“Stop, stop!” Officer Caprio yelled at the driver of the Jeep. “Get out of the car!”
She repeatedly ordered Harris to get out of the car, the video showed.
The video showed Harris stopped his vehicle and opened the driver’s door of the Jeep briefly as if to comply with the officer’s order.
But then he shut the door again, and slammed on the gas, driving directly at Officer Caprio.
Officer Caprio fired one shot as the Jeep ran her over and drove off, leaving her for dead, WJZ reported.
The portion of the video that included hearing the officer dying was not released by the media due to its graphic nature; however, the video in its entirety was shown to the jury.
The jury deliberated for six-and-a-half hours before returning a guilty verdict against Harris, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Although he was sentenced to life, he will be eligible for parole consideration in the future, WBAL reported.
Harris’ attorneys said they plan to file an appeal.
Genius, Matthews, and Ward have reached plea agreements with prosecutors, and are expected to be sentenced to 30 years in prison for first-degree murder, according to WJZ.