Judge denies new trial request for a Baker man convicted of killing his wife, lawyer Chiquita Tate, in 2009 _lowres

Greg Harris

A Baker man convicted in 2011 in the 2009 stabbing death of his wife, lawyer Chiquita Tate, in her downtown Baton Rouge office does not deserve a hearing on his innocence claim or a new trial, a state judge has ruled.

District Judge Bonnie Jackson, in a one-paragraph order signed last week and filed into the court record Wednesday, followed the recommendation of 19th Judicial District Court Commissioner Quintillis Lawrence and denied Greg Harris’ request for an evidentiary hearing and his application for post-conviction relief.

Harris, 44, is serving a 40-year prison sentence for manslaughter.

“I am confident in the court’s denial of Harris’ (post-conviction relief) and evidentiary hearing request,” East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Thursday.

Harris’ attorney, former state Sen. Rick Gallot, said he had not seen the judge’s ruling.

Tate, 34, was stabbed several dozen times at the State National Life Building on the corner of Third and Florida streets. Her body was discovered the morning of Feb. 20, 2009, in her third-floor office.

A passerby found her wallet with credit cards the night before in the Gardere Lane area. Harris told Baton Rouge police he had gone to that part of town the night his wife was killed to buy steroids, but his supplier was not home.

Prosecutor Prem Burns called Harris’ admission the smoking gun in the case and argued to jurors that Harris dumped Tate’s Gucci wallet in the high-crime area, hoping someone would use the credit cards and be blamed for her slaying.

In his motion for a post-conviction evidentiary hearing that Jackson denied, Harris alleged that a now-deceased brother of one of Tate’s former clients is responsible for her death.

East Baton Rouge Parish prosecutors maintain the overwhelming evidence pointed to Harris as the killer.

Gallot has cited witness statements in pointing the finger at Denard Duheart, who died in 2013.

Tate represented his brother, Denako Duheart, in an unrelated murder case. Denako Duheart is serving a prison term in a 2011 attempted second-degree murder conviction.

In his application for post-conviction relief, also denied by Jackson, Harris contends that state District Judge Trudy White, the trial judge, should have disqualified herself from presiding over the case because Tate was a student law clerk for the judge when White previously sat on the Baton Rouge City Court bench.

Even though White disclosed that relationship with Tate prior to his trial, Harris says he did not get a fair trial. Harris also argues White should not have allowed a Baker police officer to testify about Tate’s account of a December 2007 domestic dispute between herself and Harris.

Harris and Tate married in February 2008, one year before her death.