Clayton County man sentenced to life without parole in wife’s 2018 beating death

A Clayton County man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after brutally beating his wife to death in 2018, the district attorney’s office announced Monday.

Jermaine Lamarr Harris, 50, was arrested in July 2018 after police discovered his wife’s beaten, lifeless body in her home. The couple were in the middle of divorce proceedings, and she had an active protective order against Harris that prohibited any contact with her, authorities said at the time.

Roena Williams-Harris, 37, was killed just days before the final divorce hearing, prosecutors said.

By November 2018, Jermaine Harris was released on a $10,000 bond. He was later indicted on additional charges and re-arrested in September 2019 after a brief SWAT standoff at a home in Macon, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

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According to prosecutors, Harris and his wife had been married for a decade and were living separately at the time of the slaying. Over the years, she had confided in a few close friends and family members about Harris’ physical, verbal and financial abuse, they said.

At trial this month, the Clayton County medical examiner testified that the victim suffered blunt force trauma to her head and body, causing depressed skull fractures, hemorrhaging in the brain, a broken wrist and a fractured hyoid bone — a U-shaped bone at the base of the jaw that supports the tongue and is vital to speech.

Prosecutors said Harris’ cellphone location data placed him at Williams-Harris’ home at the time of the killing, and a neighbor’s surveillance camera captured his 2001 Mercedes convertible driving away from the scene. Investigators also found blood on the driver’s-side floor mat of Harris’ car, which was a match to Williams-Harris’ DNA.

After the week-long trial, the jury found Harris guilty of two counts of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, three counts of aggravated battery and one count of aggravated stalking.

Clayton County Superior Court Judge Aaron Mason sentenced Harris to life without parole plus 60 years.

“We sincerely hope that this conviction brings some level of peace to the loved ones of the victim,” DA Tasha Mosley said in a statement. “As citizens, we may all rest just a little easier knowing that a violent offender is off the streets for good. As always, my office will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of all Clayton County citizens.”