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Jury finds man not guilty of first-degree murder in 2021 Christmas Day shooting

Juan Harris acquitted in death of man, injuries to 3 others in Boynton Beach
Palm Beach County Courthouse entrance
Posted at 7:15 PM, Mar 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-16 19:16:38-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Palm Beach County jury on Tuesday found a West Palm Beach man not guilty in the death of a man and injuries to four others in a Christmas Day shooting in 2021 in Boynton Beach.

Juan Harris III, now 24, was acquitted of charges of first-degree murder with a firearm and attempted murder with a firearm in the three-day trial at the courthouse in West Palm Beach.

Earlier this year, two other charges of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm and attempted second-degree murder with a firearm were disposed as nolle posse, meaning not prosecuted. On Jan, 21, 2021, prosecutors took no action on three charges of aggravated battery with a firearm.

Police were called to Sara Sims Park in Boynton Beach at 9:18 p.m. on Christmas in reference to a shooting.

When officers arrived, a crowd of 400 to 500 people were dispersing from the area in the 200 block of Northwest 10th Avenue, north of Boynton Beach Boulevard between Interstate 95 and Federal Highway.

Officers found four victims, including a man lying on his back with a gunshot wound to the face. That victim, who has not been identified, was later pronounced dead. The others, including a minor, were taken to Delray Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

Harris was released from jail after processing and no other charges are pending.

"It's not a time to celebrate," Brian Pakett, an attorney in West Palm Beach, told WPTV. "Someone is dead and the family of the deceased is grieving. It's never a time to celebrate even though it was a trial victory. I am happy for my client."

Based on an anonymous tip from a witness to the shooting, police said they learned that suspects ran to a vehicle parked at Sara Simms Park. One wore a green mask, while the other had on black clothes. The witness told police that the suspects' vehicle left the park through the exit leading to Northwest 10th Avenue.

In surveillance video, detectives observed three men and one woman exit a gray Ford Fusion at 9:30 p.m. that night.

Police later identified the suspect with the green mask as Trayvis Lamont Richardson, 26, at the time, using a social media photo from the same day as the shooting.

Also in the photo was a man matching the description of another suspect from the surveillance video later identified by West Palm Beach as Harris, a known associate of Richardson.

The witness at the park positively identified Harris as the suspect who shot the deceased victim.

Also, Harris' ex-girlfriend told investigators he confessed to her that he fired the gun.

Richardson was not charged in the crime but sentenced on June 24, 2021, to three years in prison for felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition on Aug. 15, 2020.