Longtime Rappahannock County resident and community activist Hunt H. Harris has been caught up in a Spotsylvania County armed robbery case.
Considering that Harris
has no prior criminal convictions or accusations, the incident is either a shocking first offense for the 53-year-old man or a horrific case of mistaken identity.
As the word is getting out in the county, several community members are receiving the news with incredulity and have rallied to help Harris
, setting up a Web site for the case and establishing a legal defense fund in his
Click Here!> > Harris
is accused of a robbery that took place at a Virginia ABC store on Oct. 26 in Fredericksburg.
made a purchase at an ABC store in Warrenton, his
license plate number was reported to authorities by a store employee who thought he
resembled the sketch.
Police showed Harris
's driver's license photo to the clerk from the Fredericksburg ABC store, and the clerk said Harris was the robber.Harris
said the photo on his
driver's license is three years old.
Police first contacted Harris
on Nov. 15 and asked him to take a polygraph test.Harris
sought legal counsel on the matter, and told police he
was advised to take a private polygraph, rather than the state-performed test.Harris
said police rejected that suggestion.Harris
was in Rappahannock County the entire day on Oct. 26.He
taught a tennis lesson in the morning and spent the afternoon and evening with friends in the county, he
told Spotsylvania police about his
alibi, but they refused to talk to the people he
was with that day.
On Nov. 17, representatives from the Spotsylvania Criminal Investigation Division informed Harris
that they had issued a warrant for his
cooperated with police and turned himself in at the Rappahannock County Jail the next day, the Spotsylvania sheriff's office
was transported to the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Stafford County on Nov. 19.He
spent one night in the regional jail before being released on $25,000 bond on Nov. 20, according to a jail spokesperson.
When asked about the case, representatives of the Rappahannock County Sheriff's Office
declined to comment because the case is under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's office in Spotsylvania.Harris
has a long and involved history in Rappahannock County.He grew up in Virginia Beach and Franklin, Va., and first came to Rappahannock in the late 1970s after finishing a master's degree program at the University of Virginia.Harris moved to the county permanently in 1981 and currently serves as executive director of the Ragged Mountain Resource Center in Sperryville.
The center organizes environmental, educational and recreational activities for the community.Harris
has also taken the helm on numerous trash cleanups in the county, including one of an illegal dump site near Chester Gap at the headwaters of the Rappahannock River in 1996.Prior to starting the center, Harris served as president of the Rappahannock League For Environmental Protection, worked as a guidance counselor and athletic director at Wakefield Country Day School in Huntly and was head pro at Chestnut Forks Tennis Club in Warrenton.Harris
is also one of the founders of the community e-mailing list Rappnet.He
has one son, Jamie, 25, who he
raised in Rappahannock with his
ex-wife, Tutt Stapp-Harris.
A Web site, www.helphunt.org, has been set up by Harris's supporters to provide information and updates about the case and to raise money for the Hunt Harris Legal Defense Fund
.The site says Harris
has been falsely accused of the crime.Chris Bird, who has known Harris for more than 20 years and has taken a lead role in his defense fund, said that if this can happen to Harris, it can happen to anyone.
...Harris has retained Warrenton lawyer Blair Howard as his legal counsel and a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 18 in Spotsylvania County.
Those interested in helping Hunt Harris
legal expenses can send checks payable to the Hunt Harris Legal Defense Fund
, 100 Horseshoe Hollow Lane, Washington, VA 22747.