was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 1996 after kidnapping and
killing 22-year-old artist Kristin Huggins. According to testimony,
Harris decided to carjack someone because it was raining. He abducted
Higgins, locked her in the trunk of his car for hours, anally raped her,
shot her twice in the head, and buried her.
His female accomplice
during the crime testified against him. He was also accused of the
assualt of at least four other women.
In court, Harris spit
on the floor, cussed out the judge, and proclaimed his innocence. His
lawyers argued he should be spared the death penalty due to his abusive
In 1999, Harris stomped
another death-row inmate in NJ State Prison - Robert "Mudman" Simon - to
death. His lawyers argued self defense, and a jury acquitted him.
On December 17,
1992, Kristin Huggins, a twenty-two year old graphic artist, left her
parents’ home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to paint a mural at the
Trenton Club in downtown Trenton. That same morning, Ambrose Harris
determined that he would commit a holdup, and enlisted one Gloria Dunn
to assist him. Just out of prison after serving 13 years, Harris spotted
Kristin Huggins drive her red Toyota into the parking lot of the Trenton
Club, and announced “I’m going to get that bitch.” He accosted Ms.
Huggins, commandeered her car, and drove off after his accomplice Gloria
Dunn, joined them in the car.
Harris drove to a deserted area under a bridge near Route
One and Perry Street, where he forced Kristin Huggins into the trunk. He
then drove the car around, eventually returning to the area under the
bridge. There, he took Kristin out of the trunk and raped her. He then
put her back in the trunk, and shot her in the back of the head. He hid
the body under a mattress in the deserted area. Harris then left to get
a shovel to bury her body. When he returned, he shot her again, this
time in the face, to be sure she was dead. He then dug a shallow grave
in which he and his accomplice buried Kristin Huggins.
killing took place Dec. 17, 1992, and the victim’s body wasn't found
until Feb. 18, 1993. Gloria Dunn -- apparently hoping to collect the
posted $25,000 reward -- contacted the police months after the murder,
claiming to be a psychic who could lead them to the missing young woman.
Her dubious story quickly unravelled, and she confessed to her role in
the kidnapping and slaying of Huggins, after leading police to her badly
time he was tried, convicted and given the death sentence for her murder,
Harris was already serving a life term in prison, required to spend 30
years in jail without parole as a persistent offender for an unrelated
1993 armed robbery conviction.
According to news accounts, when Harris was sentenced in 1996, he was
asked if he had anything to say to his victim’s parents, who were in the
courtroom . Harris turned and suggested that Huggins’ parents apologize
to him. His outburst caused the judge to remove him from the courtroom.
Harris remains on death row, having added another murder to his resume.
While on Death Row, Harris attacked and killed another Death Row inmate,
Robert “Mudman” Simon, a beefy, scraggly long-haired and long-bearded
48-year-old outlaw biker, with several previous murder convictions.
Simon was convicted in 1974 for killing his girlfriend after she refused
to cooperate in her gang rape by Simon’s friends and fellow Warlocks.
While serving time for that heinous murder at Graterford Prison in
Philadelphia, he knifed and killed another inmate in 1984. Like his
future killer, Simon pleaded self-defense and was acquitted. Despite his
two killings, Simon was paroled.
Only 11 weeks
later, Simon murdered police Sgt. Ippolito (Lee) Gonzalez in Gloucester
County, New Jersey. This third murder earned him the death penalty.
Last year (2001) a jury in Freehold, New Jersey found
that Ambrose Harris had acted in self-defense when he brutally beat and
killed his fellow death-row inmate Robert "Mudman" Simon in 1999. But
there are no innocents in this story, save the victims of Simon and
Simon, casually referred to in the press and even by
former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman as "Mudman" - as if he were
a recognizable one-name entertainer like Madonna or Prince - was killed
as he entered the indoor recreation module of the death row unit.
Violence, more than the state supplied board games, was the recreational
activity of choice for both Simon and Harris.
According to the grand jury testimony of one of the
prison correctional officers, Simon entered the "rec cage" and charged
Harris. The officer rang the riot bell as he witnessed Harris slam Simon
to the ground and continually punch him about the face. When Simon
stopped struggling, Harris got up and began to kick him in the face. The
corrections officers, who were not armed, did not enter the cage or
attempt to break up the fight, which lasted little more than a minute.
No weapon was used, officials said – or needed, I might add.
When announcing that Harris would be indicted for
Simon’s murder, Mercer County Prosecutor Daniel G. Giaquinto said Simon
died from massive cranio-facial injuries that were consistent with
having been inflicted by someone forcefully and repeatedly stomping on
Simon, a beefy, scraggly long-haired and long-bearded
48-year-old outlaw biker, was a real sweetheart. He was convicted in
1974 for killing his girlfriend after she refused to cooperate in her
gang rape by Simon’s friends and fellow Warlocks. While serving time for
that heinous murder at Graterford Prison in Philadelphia, he knifed and
killed another inmate in 1984. Like his future killer, Simon pleaded
self-defense and was acquitted. Despite his two killings, Simon was
Only 11 weeks later, Simon murdered police Sgt.
Ippolito (Lee) Gonzalez in Gloucester County, New Jersey. Well, so much
for rehabilitation. His third murder earned him the death penalty. While
on death row, he was known to brag that he had in fact murdered a fourth
Harris, another sweetheart, was on death row for the
kidnapping, rape and murder of 22-year-old Kristen Huggins in 1992.
Prior to his death sentence, he was serving a life term in prison and
required to serve 30 years without parole as a persistent offender from
an unrelated 1993-armed robbery conviction.
Just out of prison in 1992 after serving 13 years,
Harris and a woman companion attacked Huggins, a graphic artist on her
way to do a job. Harris placed her in the trunk of her car and they
drove off. Harris later sodomized her, shot her in the head and buried
Harris’ partner in crime contacted the police months
later and said she was a psychic who could lead them to the missing
young woman. Her dubious story of course came quickly unglued and she
confessed to her role in the kidnapping and slaying of Huggins. She
agreed to testify against Harris.
According to news accounts, when Harris was sentenced
in 1996, he was asked if he had anything to say to the victims’ parents,
who were in attendance. Harris turned and suggested that Huggins’
parents apologize to him. His outburst caused the judge to remove
him from the courtroom.
The race factor often enters the death penalty
debate, but Simon happened to be white and Harris happened to be black.
Race played no part in their convictions and death sentences and it
probably had little to do with their prison altercations and ultimate
Court upholds Ambrose Harris death
by Associated Press
Tuesday December 04, 2007
NEWARK -- A unanimous state Supreme
Court on Tuesday upheld the death sentence for Ambrose
Harris, the convicted killer of Bucks County, Pa.,
artist Kristin Huggins, ruling that the special
circumstances that removed another killer from death row
did not apply to Harris.
The 7-0 decision rejected the latest
appeal by Harris, finding that the inmate could not
muster a majority of sitting justices who had sided with
him on prior appeals.
The ruling, however, may have little
practical effect for Harris and the seven other inmates
on the state's death row at New Jersey State Prison in
Trenton, since New Jersey may be on the verge of
scrapping the death penalty.
The decision means Harris has no
further recourse in state courts, said his lawyer, James
K. Smith Jr., an assistant deputy state public defender.
Harris has an appeal pending in federal court.
David Wald, a spokesman for the state
attorney general's office, said they agreed with
Tuesday's ruling, but that the prior decision allowing
the other killer to leave death row was wrong and should
Harris, 55, had been sentenced to
death in 1996 for murdering Huggins, 22, of Lower
Makefield, Pa., whom he kidnapped and raped in 1992.
The Harris ruling is based on a July
2006 decision in which the state Supreme Court
overturned the death sentence for Anthony DiFrisco, a
hit man who said he was paid $2,500 to shoot a Maplewood
pizzeria owner in 1986.
DiFrisco's successful appeal centered
on complex procedural issues involving the type and
timing of reviews afforded in capital cases. The ruling
determined that DiFrisco's death sentence must be
overturned because a majority of justices had voted --
at various times and for various reasons -- to sentence
him to life in prison.
The court on Tuesday did not find the
same circumstances existed for Harris, in part, because
two justices who heard the first Harris appeal were no
longer on the court when it considered the
proportionality review. It noted that to find four
justices who had voted to overturn his death penalty,
Harris essentially counted one justice twice.
While in prison in September 1999,
Harris killed a fellow death row inmate, kicking and
stomping 48-year-old Robert "Mudman" Simon to death. A
jury in 2001 found that Harris acted in self-defense and
found him innocent of murder and manslaughter charges.
On Monday, New Jersey moved closer to
becoming the first state to abolish the death penalty
since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated it in 1976 when
a Senate committee approved replacing capital punishment
with life in prison without parole. The full Senate is
to consider the bill before the legislative session ends
on Jan. 8, and the bill should get a vote by the full
Assembly this month. Gov. Jon S. Corzine, a death
penalty foe, supports the bill.
New Jersey reinstated the death
penalty in 1982, but hasn't executed anyone since 1963.