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Sgt. Says He Pretended to Hire Someone to Hurt Harris

The latest testimony came from Sgt. Kenneth Kinney in the ongoing trial in the wrongful death suit against the state of California, following the murder of JoAnn Harris at the Culver City armory in 2007.

A member of the California Army National Guard testified Wednesday that he was upset when he learned a colleague impregnated a recruit, but said he was never serious about helping the man harm the woman's fetus.   

Taking the stand in trial of a wrongful death suit filed against the state by the family of murdered National Guard member JoAnn Crystal Harris, Sgt. Kenneth Kinney said he told a friend to meet with Sgt. Scott Ansman and pretend he wanted to carry out the attack.   

“Jack him for his money. What's he going to do?” Kinney said he told his friend.   

Ansman beat Harris to death with a baseball bat on Aug. 24, 2007, on the gymnasium floor of the Culver City armory. The married father of three mistakenly believed Harris was pregnant with his baby, in part because the 29- year-old victim initially told others the fetus was indeed his.   

Attorney Mark Geragos - representing three half-siblings of Harris - said Ansman easily lured her to the armory because Guard members never told her that Ansman had been outspoken about wanting to get rid of her baby.   

Gerald, Suzette and Deborah Bennett became the plaintiffs when their mother, Martha Harris, died last August. She sued the state in October 2008. The Bennetts maintain their half-sister's death could have been avoided if officials investigated Sgt. Erik Hein's allegations that Ansman was plotting against Harris and her unborn child.   

Hein also was assigned to the Culver City armory and maintains his military career took a hit because he came forward and urged his superiors to address Ansman's threats against Harris and his strange behavior before he killed the woman.   

Harris found out she was pregnant while undergoing a medical examination as part of her National Guard recruitment, according Kinney. Another recruiter who took over efforts to sign up Harris then broke the news to Kinney, the sergeant testified.   

Kinney said he was “shocked” and confronted Ansman who admitted he had sex with Harris at an Orange County hotel while both were intoxicated.   

“One of my applicants just told me you're the father of her baby,” Kinney said he told Ansman. “I had a professional relationship with Sergeant Ansman and I didn't allow that kind of contact with my applicant.”   

Harris' pregnancy caused her to be disqualified, Kinney testified.    Kinney said he turned Ansman down the first two times he asked him about finding someone to hurt Harris and her baby. He said he then pretended to relent and had someone he knew meet with Ansman.

“My only intent was to have him pay for nothing,” Kinney testified.   

Kinney said his friend and Ansman met, but that he does know what happened after that.

Before killing Harris with the baseball bat, Ansman used Internet information to unsuccessfully try and induce an abortion by putting Visine eye drops into her tea. Kinney said that effort upset him, as well.

“I told him, ‘Look, I don't want anything to do with that,’” Kinney testified.   

Kinney also said Hein told him he was taking steps to see that Ansman's behavior was being reported to their superiors.

“He said, `Don’t worry about it, it's already been brought up the chain of command,”’ Kinney said. 

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