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Victim testifies that she wants woman who financially exploited her sent to prison

Monday, November 26, 2012 | 8:13 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A mentally disabled woman testified at the Boone County Courthouse on Monday that she would like to see the woman who pleaded guilty to financially exploiting her sent to prison.

Luana Harrison testified that Deanna Harris had manipulated her into giving Harris approximately $24,000. Reading a statement before the court during Harris' sentencing hearing, Harrison testified that Harris had borrowed so much money that Harrison could not afford food or medication. 

"I hate myself for allowing this to happen," Harrison said, "At (the time of the incidents) the desire to die was stronger than the desire to live."

Harris pleaded guilty in October to financially exploiting a person with a disability in connection with events that took place between April and September of 2010. Harris borrowed money from Luana Harrison with the false promise of paying her back. 

The charge carries a possible sentence of five to 15 years. 

"I would very much like to hear that she be given the maximum penalty," Harrison said. 

Following the reading of her statement, Harris' attorney, David Wallis, told Harrison that if Harris were given the maximum penalty she would not be required to pay back the money that she had taken. With that in mind, Wallis asked Harrison if she would prefer to see Harris sentenced to the maximum punishment or if she would rather have Harris pay her back. 

Harrison said that while she would like to have her money returned to her, she doubted Harris could pay it back. 

"It'd probably take her a lifetime to pay all that back," Harrison said.

Harrison also testified that she was concerned that if Harris wasn't jailed she might take advantage of others.  

"I think she would. She'd find someone else to con," Harrison said. 

Linda Mazuranic, community support supervisor at New Horizons Community Support Center in Columbia, testified for the prosecution. She said she has known Harrison for 14 years. 

Mazuranic testified that she noticed a change in Harrison's behavior, noting that she seemed more secretive and depressed following the incidents. 

Wallis asked Mazuranic if financial restitution would help in Harrison's recovery. 

Mazuranic thought that it would help Harrison's quality of life, but that "it's going to take her a long time to recover from this."

Harris' sentencing has been continued until Dec. 10 in order for the prosecution and defense to submit more evidence. 

Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.


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