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Trial opens in sex assault case against Vegas Strip killings suspect

By Ken Ritter

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 04:32 a.m. HST, Sep 13, 2013


LAS VEGAS » A prosecutor told jurors Thursday that a self-described pimp accused of sexually assaulting and robbing a nude dancer in 2010 at an apartment just off the Las Vegas Strip was exploiting the 18-year-old woman for her money and her body.

"Evidence will show the defendant, Ammar Harris, is a pimp," Chief Deputy District Attorney David Stanton said during his opening statement at the trial. The prosecutor also said he plans to present statements by the 27-year-old defendant.

Harris also faces trial in December on triple murder charges in a separate death penalty case stemming from a shooting and fiery crash that killed three people on the Strip in February.

In the current case, the victim will testify that Harris forced her into sex acts in a shower and took several hundred dollars from her after she and a friend moved into an apartment where Harris lived, Stanton said.

The prosecutor said another woman was living with Harris and paid the rent and car payments on a BMW he drove.

Harris has pleaded not guilty.

His public defense attorney, David Shieck, told jurors that they'll have to determine from testimony and evidence whether sex between Harris, then 24, and his accuser was consensual.

"The question is consent," Schieck said. "Mr. Harris is not on trial for being a pimp. He is not on trial for pandering. He is on trial on allegations that he had non-consensual sexual activity with" the woman.

The Associated Press generally does not name alleged sexual assault victims.

Charges in the sex case previously were dropped when the woman moved to Texas. But the case was resurrected after the Strip shooting and crash case, when the woman returned to Las Vegas and testified before a grand jury.

Records show Harris has never been convicted of pimping, although he has posted Internet video of himself fanning $100 bills and boasting about a life of luxury cars and living from the earnings of prostitutes. His criminal history includes a felony weapon conviction in South Carolina and a misdemeanor marijuana possession conviction in Atlanta.

Authorities allege the shooting stemmed from a verbal altercation between Harris and a self-styled rapper, Kenneth Cherry Jr., at a casino valet stand.

Harris is accused of firing a handgun from a black Range Rover SUV into a Maserati driven by Cherry as the two vehicles sped along Las Vegas Boulevard.

Cherry, 27, was wounded and died at a hospital. A passenger with Cherry was wounded and survived.

The Maserati slammed into a taxi that burst into flames, killing the driver and a passenger.







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