When Ammar Harris appeared in a Las Vegas court for the first time, he
wore shackles and jail-issued navy blue T-shirt and pants.
Judge Deborah J. Lippis asked Harris, the man accused of firing a gun while driving down the Las Vegas Strip, killing another driver and causing a fiery crash that killed two others, whether he had sufficient funds to hire a defense attorney. Harris murmured a barely audible "no, ma'am."
It was a decidedly different Harris than the public was introduced to when Metro Police first identified him as a suspect in the Feb. 21 crime.
Along with photos of Harris, whom authorities tracked down in Studio City, Calif., after a weeklong search, police released a video of Harris. In the video, which was originally uploaded in 2009 a man authorities say is Harris counts out $8,300 in $100 bills.
"I got another bag, but I think I proved my (expletive) point," he says at the end of the video.
Harris was active on Twitter and other social media sites, and he at least publicly projected affluence and easy access to large sums of money, driving luxury automobiles, planning elaborate, ostentatious birthday parties and offering to fly women across the country, seemingly on a whim.
On March 30, 2011, Harris posted a photo to a social media site that appeared to be an account alert from Chase Bank. The alert says the customer's available balance is $9,999,599.
So, how is it that Harris suddenly lacks the funds to pay for his own defense?
Criminal defendants have the right to an attorney, but there are measures in place to determine whether a suspect has the money to pay for his or her own defense.
In Nevada, someone is considered indigent automatically if they receive public aid such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, disability insurance or public housing, or earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
In 2008, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled defendants who do not immediately fall into those categories face additional "rigorous" screening to qualify for a public defender. Factors such as charges faced, monthly expenses and local rates for private attorneys are considered to determine whether defendants would face "a substantial hardship were they to seek to retain private counsel."
Harris marketed himself as a fashion photographer on a trade website and also worked in event promotion and management, according to his social media profiles and a former associate in Atlanta. Harris, who uses the nickname Jaiduh and also is known by the name Ammar Asim Faruq Harris, was arrested in 2010 in Las Vegas on charges of pandering, kidnapping, sexual assault and coercion. The charges later were dropped, but the witness re-emerged after Harris' arrest this year, and Harris was indicted last week on three counts of sexual assault and one count of robbery related to the 2010 accusations.
Harris refers to himself as AMG Lifestyle "management" on social media sites and even posted a photo of a business credit card in the name of AMG Lifestyle, with the caption "filing taxes on em (sic) lol." AMG Lifestyle is registered in Florida under the name Yenesis Alfonso, whom Metro Police identified as being in the vehicle with Harris during the shooting. No such business is registered in Nevada.
In March 2012, Harris circulated fliers on Twitter that advertised a birthday
Most Popular Stories
- Boehner Lashes Out Against Ted Cruz, Far Right
- TFA Recruiting DACA Recipients
- Hawaii Official Who Release Obama Certificate Only Victim of Plane Crash
- Holiday Shopping Off to a Slow Start This Season
- Ford Plans New Cars, Jobs in 2014
- Gold, Silver Slide on Prospects of Fed Exit
- 'Rape Insurance' Bill Passes in Michigan
- Ted Cruz Coloring Book Selling Briskly
- Kim Jong Un's Uncle Executed
- Grizzly Bears Could Be Taken Off Endangered List