Mom’s outburst in Butler County court doesn’t stop son from pleading guilty

A Cincinnati man pleaded guilty to murder Tuesday morning in Butler County Common Pleas Court and was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison, which includes an additional three years for a gun specification on the murder charge.

William D. Harris, 27, was arrested in California after the fatal shooting of Trey Shepard on April 8 in St. Clair Twp. His trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but Harris pleaded guilty to the charge instead.

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As Harris was about to plead, his mother, sitting in the front row of the courtroom, yelled, “No! No!”

Judge Keith Spaeth ordered a short recess and Harris and his attorney met for a few minutes.

Then Harris pleaded to the charges as his mother wiped away tears.

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Shepard’s mother, Shawanda Lake, addressed the court and she asked Harris why he killed her son in an apartment on Nelson Street.

She said Harris was a friend of the family and Shepard would have done anything for him.

“I still don’t understand why,” Lake said. “I will never know what happened in that moment for you to just change. He chose you over me. You and Trey were friends, not just buddies. I don’t understand. What happened, Will?”

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A tearful Harris said he didn’t know why he committed the crime, but said he was on drugs at the time. He said he was sorry.

As Harris was being led of out the court, his mother said, “I love you.”

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