Jury sees grisly images of Garland clerk on fire

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by SEBASTIAN ROBERTSON

WFAA

Posted on October 28, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 28 at 6:46 PM

DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas jury saw disturbing video evidence on Monday in the trial of a man accused of setting a Garland convenience store clerk on fire last year during a robbery.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against 38-year-old Matthew Johnson over the slaying of 76-year-old Nancy Harris, who was attacked at the Garland store where she worked.

Three surveillance cameras captured part of the horrific scene as a man identified as Johnson poured lighter fluid over the grandmother and set her ablaze. The video was shown to jurors during the capital murder trial on Monday.

Harris burned for two minutes before a police and fire officials arrived to spray her with a fire extinguisher.

"She was in a lot of pain, she was very worried," testified William Crews of the Garland Fire Department.  "The only thing she said at that time was, 'Help me. Help me. Help me.'"

While Johnson remained stoic during the first day of his trial, a squad car video showed him in the back of a squad car within an hour of the fiery assault.

"We can usually tell by the looks on their face, and he was pretty pale and pretty panicked," Crews said.

Harris suffered first and second-degree burns all over her body. She died five days after the attack.

The state is pursuing the death penalty, and a source in the district attorney's office said she expects the trial to continue for about two weeks.

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srobertson@wfaa.com

 

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