***Copied From The Ahwatukee Foothills News***

“Pre-trial Filings Heat Up Harrod Case”
by Guinda Reeves

Ahwatukee resident James Cornel Harrod, 43, sat quietly Sept 19 as a flurry of pre-trial motions continued in his case before Judge Ronald S. Reinstein of Maricopa County Superior Court.

He is charged with first-degree murder and burglary in the death of 55-year-old Phoenix socialite Jeanne Tovrea on April 1, 1988. If convicted, Harrod faces the death penalty. He has been jailed since his arrest on Sept 15, 1995.

Here’s what’s happening:

*During the Sept 19 hearing, defense attorney Tonya McMath said she and her law partner Michael Bernays were filing three new motions: to suppress Harrod’s statements made to police at the time of his arrest; to suppress the results of a physical line-up at the jail (the witness reportedly failed to identify Harrod at a later line-up); and to admit the results of a recent polygraph reportedly supporting Harrod’s innocence.

*Prosecutors notified the court that they had received notice from a U.S. Department of Justice official regarding two items of evidence, a smock and some bed clothing from the Tovrea murder scene. The Federal Bureau of Identification technical expert involved with the two items recently was “disciplined” by the federal agency, in the wake of problems involving the FBI lab and lab personnel in processing evidence.

*Reinstein ruled that New Times reporter Paul Rubin must turn over three audio tapes and 12 pages of computer notes to him to be reviewed in camera. The judge will then decide what, if anything, should be provided to the prosecutors.

Attorneys Paul Ahler and Bill Culbertson of the Maricopa County Prosecutor’s Office had asked Reinstein to order Rubin to surrender to them the computer notes and tapes from his interviews with Harrod. Those interviews were conducted prior to Rubin’s articles in February and March 1997.

A motion for a protective order had been entered earlier Sept 19 on behalf of Rubin and New Times. They were represented by attorney Steve Suskin, who objected to turning over Rubin’s 12-page computer document because it includes the reporter’s “thoughts and impressions,” as well as notes to himself to check certain details.

“The reporter used his best stuff in the (published) articles,” said Suskin. Citing “reporter’s privilege” not to divulge notes or sources, the attorney told the judge that Rubin is prepared to testify to the authenticity of the quotes used in the articles, if necessary, but that releasing the reporter’s notes “invades the news-gathering process.”

Suskin told Reinstein that he and his clients were willing for the judge to review the materials in camera (in his chambers), or to provide the prosecution with a redacted version, editing out Rubin’s personal notes. However, “very little is left” after Rubin’s notes are redacted from the quotes, Suskin told the judge.

*Reinstein returned a box of materials in notebooks to Harrod’s sister, June Barney. The material was from transcribed and other case information that Barney had been organizing for defense attorneys, as part of her previous work to help defray the costs of her brother’s defense.

Prosecutors objected to returning a transcript of the grand jury hearing, but Reinstein said Harrod “is entitled to a copy of the grand jury transcript,” as is Barney, who had a power of attorney from her brother.

Ahler also objected to a surreptitious tape made by Barney of a conversation she reportedly had with Harrod’s ex-wife, Ann Costello, at Costello’s place of work.

Reinstein said a copy of the transcribed tape of Barney’s and Costello’s conversation would be given to McMath for Harrod’s defense.

*By Sept 25, Reinstein is expected to rule on motions in the case, including a recent prosecution motion to allow Harrod’s ex-wife, Ann Costello, who was still married to Harrod at the time of the Tovrea murder, to testify against Harrod. To allow the testimony, the judge would have to overturn a state rule prohibiting a wife from testifying against her husband.

Reinstein has ordered both the prosecution and defense to provide by Oct 2 a final list of witnesses, and an estimate of how long the trial will take. Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to begin on Oct 6.

Tovrea was shot several times in her Lincoln Hills Estates home. The home reportedly had its own electronic security system, as well as being located in a gated community with private security.

Edward Tovrea Sr. died four years prior to his wife’s murder. He had left most of his estate to Jeanne Tovrea, with a trust fund for his three grown children from a previous marriage-Edward A. (Hap) Tovrea Jr., and his two sisters, Georgia and Priscilla. That trust fund reportedly was payable upon Jeanne Tovrea’s death.

Harrod remains in custody with no chance for bail, as is customary in a capital murder case, in the Maricopa County Jail.

The Tovrea Homepage
The Jeanne Tovrea Murder Listings
11. (page 57) Reporter's Notes Turned Over to Attorneys