Maintenance man gets life in rape, murder of grad student

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Fifty-six-year-old James Harris will spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder and rape.

A west Philadelphia maintenance man has been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole in the rape and strangulation death of a Drexel University graduate student.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 58-year-old James Harris was convicted by a Common Pleas Court judge Wednesday after a nonjury trial in the July 2015 death of 27-year-old Jasmine Wright.

Judge Sandy Byrd imposed the mandatory life term and added consecutive sentences totaling 30 to 60 years on rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and burglary counts.

Authorities said he had recently been fired from the apartment complex where the victim lived.

Before he was sentenced, Harris denied that he was responsible. He waived his right to a jury trial in exchange for prosecutors not pursuing the death penalty.
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