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Man Accused Of Domestic Violence Caught In Same House As Alleged Victim At Zoom Hearing

Officials realized that Coby James Harris, who was ordered to have no contact with the victim, was actually in the same house during a preliminary hearing held online.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Coby Harris Pd

A Michigan man's bond was canceled in a domestic violence case this week after officials realized during a virtual hearing that he was actually in the same location as the victim — and possibly intimidating the woman.

Coby James Harris, 21, was already facing a charge of assault with intent to commit bodily harm less than murder after an incident that took place on February 9, the Sturgis Journal reports. However, Harris may face further charges following a disastrous court hearing on Tuesday which culminated in the judge canceling his bond and police appearing on the scene to take him into custody.

During a preliminary hearing held by the St. Joseph County District Court, Harris and the victim, Mary Lindsey, were both in attendance. Video shared on the YouTube page of Judge Jeffrey Middleton shows the hearing unfolding as normal, with Lindsey describing the February 9 incident, in which authorities were called to her home over an explosive argument between herself and Harris.

Coby Harris Pd

However, the hearing took a turn when Lindsey began to take long pauses between answers and looked off-camera for long periods of time, prompting Assistant District Attorney Deborah Davis to voice her suspicions that Harris was actually present at the home and that Lindsey may be in danger.

“Your Honor, I have reason to believe that the defendant is in the same apartment as the complaining witness right now, and I am extremely scared for her safety,” Davis said. “And the fact that she’s looking off to the side and he’s moving around, I want some confirmation that she is safe before we continue.”

After some initial hesitation, Lindsey gave her location to the judge when asked; when Harris was questioned as to where he was at the moment, he gave an address that was different from what Lindsey provided. But when the judge asked him to go outside and take a picture of the numbers in front of the house, he claimed that he did not have enough of a charge on his phone to do so.

However, by that point, officers from the Sturgis Police Department had arrived and the judge instructed Lindsey to let them inside. Lindsey was then shown speaking to police at her door before the camera cut out; shortly afterward, Harris got up; his video feed cut off as well.

“So, it appears Mr. Harris is there at that house,” Judge Middleton remarked. Davis then responded, “I believe so, your honor.”

“This was an issue we didn’t have when we were at live court,” Judge Middleton later said. “This is the first time, to my knowledge, if he is in the same venue, that this has occurred.”

After minutes passed, Harris returned, this time using Lindsey’s camera, and began speaking to the judge, claiming that neither he nor Lindsey wanted the no-contact order in place and asked that it be “dropped.”

“I’m sorry I lied to you. I knew the cops were outside,” he said.

In response, Judge Middleton informed him that the hearing had been adjourned but that his bond had already been canceled. The judge also said that prosecutors would now “probably” charge him with obstruction of justice.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever had anybody sitting in the next room potentially intimidating the witness,” he added.

When Harris interrupted him to deny ever having attacked anyone, Middleton remarked, “You’ve hit bottom and you’re continuing to dig.”

Harris was seen being led away by officers before Lindsey returned to her camera.

The hearing was rescheduled to take place on March 16.

It’s unclear if Harris has been handed additional charges following the hearing. For the initial charge, Harris was considered a “habitual” offender, which means he may face a maximum sentence of 15 years behind bars, according to KIRO-TV.

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