22 Aug 2008

Judge takes up issue if trial of Sioux City man can include satanism

The Des Moines Register | Associated Press
August 21, 2008

A judge will review a satanic bible and an affidavit from a satanic high priest as he determines whether prosecutors can refer to satanism in the trial of a Sioux City man accused of killing his two stepdaughters.

Lawrence Harris Sr., 26, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the Jan. 6 slayings of Kendra Suing, 10, and her sister Alysha Suing, 8. The girls' bodies were found in a second-floor bedroom of the house. Police say they had been stabbed and strangled.

Harris told police that he had been performing "some strange ritual" that had gone bad and that the spell could have severe consequences, court records show.

The girls' bodies were found after police and firefighters responded to a fire at the home. The fire, which started in the home's basement, caused only superficial damage.

Prosecutors say Harris was practicing satanism and that the killings were part of a ritual from a satanic bible.

Harris' attorney, assistant public defender Michael Williams, said during a court hearing on Wednesday that prosecutors are seeking to link what Harris says and does to satanism. Casting spells and practicing witchcraft is not proof of satanism, Williams said.

"(They) want shock value, sensationalism and knit-pick analysis of religious text in order to satisfy an inference," Williams said.

Williams said he plans to use a defense of insanity and diminished responsibility.
Woodbury County Attorney Mark Campbell said the evidence is needed to show Harris was performing a spell or ritual from a satanic bible when the girls died. Harris said Harris' belief in the book is proof he wasn't mentally ill but was conducting a spell or ritual.

Harris is seeking a change of venue but Judge James D. Scott did not rule on that request during Wednesday's hearing.

Trial is set for Oct. 14.

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Prosecutors say man killed 8- and 10-year-old stepdaughters as part of a spell or ritual from "The Satanic Bible."

Documents claim slayings of two girls were satanic

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