Macon County Chronicle

Witness Testifies in Triple Murder

Just moments before two men and one woman were shot to death inside a Highland Road residence Sept. 7, a Westmoreland man allegedly told his longtime girlfriend that he should have killed one of the three victims during an earlier altercation – but that there were too many eyewitnesses.

Charles Howard Harrison, 28, who is charged with three counts of criminal homicide in the shooting deaths of Jamey Wayne Holland, Jessica Danielle Bentle and Modesto Soto Retureta, allegedly made the statement while he and Candice Deshea Daniels, 23, talked as they sat inside a truck belonging to one of the victims.

Daniels testified during Harrison’s preliminary hearing in Macon County General Sessions Court on Friday, Jan. 15, that Harrison and Holland had exchanged heated words earlier in the evening after Harrison – wielding a rifle – allegedly attempted an armed robbery.

“Mr. Harrison wanted drugs and money from Jamey and Jamey said that he didn’t have any money and he couldn’t give him the drugs because he hadn’t paid for it all yet,” Daniels recalled. “They were kind of getting mad at each other, so I stepped in between Jamey and Mr. Harrison.”

A short time later, Harrison asked Daniels to come outside the trailer-home and the two of them got into a pick-up truck belonging to Retureta, who had surrendered his vehicle’s keys to Harrison during the alleged attempted armed robbery.

“The truck was already running; the headlights were on,” testified Daniels, who said she and Harrison had been together, off and on, for almost 11 years. “We drove all the way around Jamey’s trailer. I don’t remember the conversation we were having. I mean, I’m not going to lie. I was high.”

Assistant District Attorney Bobby Hibbitt asked Daniels if she could remember any statements that Harrison had made in regard to Holland.

“I remember one statement,” Daniels replied. “That he should have killed Jamey and drove himself to the mental institution but there was so many witnesses.”

Daniels testified that she told Harrison that she was going to her vehicle and attempt to find her car keys – which had been lost earlier in the evening – so that they could leave.

However, a few moments later, as Daniels leaned into her vehicle, she heard what she thought sounded like a gunshot.

“I wasn’t for sure if I was high and I was hearing stuff or if that’s really what I heard,” Daniels testified. “At that time, I heard Danielle screaming – and I took off running.”

“As soon as my feet hit the ground running, I heard a second gunshot.”

Daniels testified that she ran around the front side of the trailer home, almost all the way out to Highland Road, then hid by lying on her stomach among a line of pine trees that ran along the edge of the property.

Daniels testified that she remained hidden until she saw Retureta’s pick-up truck leave.

“It backed all the way out the driveway, back onto Highland, and went toward Galen Road,” Daniels said.

“How long did you lay there before you got up?” Hibbitt asked.

“Until I couldn’t see brake lights no more,” Daniels replied.

(Harrison was reportedly driving Retureta’s pick-up truck when he was taken into custody at the Bethpage Store on U.S. Highway 31-E.)

Daniels, however, testified that she could not see anyone – including Harrison – leave the trailer-home from where she lay.

In fact, Daniels testified that prior to when she heard the first gunshot, she did not see anyone – including Harrison – enter the trailer-home.

“You never saw Charlie go back in the trailer, did you?” asked Harrison’s attorney, Eddie Taylor of Hartsville.

“No sir, I didn’t,” Daniels replied.

“You don’t know for a fact that he ever went back in the trailer, do you?” Taylor asked.

“No sir, I do not,” Daniels replied. “I never saw Charlie enter or exit the trailer.”

Daniels testified that she subsequently re-entered the trailer-home.

“I got midway through the kitchen and I could hear a sound,” Daniels testified. “I could tell it was Jamey … but it was kind of like a snoring sound. It was a real funny sound.”

Daniels soon discovered Holland, lying on his stomach, and Bentle’s lifeless body nearby.

Daniels then found Retureta’s body lying, in a fetal position, in the dining room floor.

At that point, Daniels said that she spotted her cell phone lying on the living room table.

“I might have tried to call Charles first,” Daniels testified. “I can’t remember. I think I did. And then I called 911.”

“Did you stay in the trailer until emergency vehicles and the police arrived?” Hibbitt asked.

“Yes sir,” Daniels replied. “I was scared to leave.”

“Why were you scared to leave?” Hibbitt asked.

“I was scared that I would get shot next,” Daniels answered.

Holland, who suffered a gunshot wound to the head, was later pronounced dead at the Hendersonville Medical Center.

Certified copies of the autopsy reports for Bentle, Holland and Retureta were submitted as a collective exhibit at the start of the preliminary hearing. According to Hibbitt, the autopsies determined that the three victims suffered gunshot wounds “which caused their death” and listed the manner of death as “homicide.”

Following the conclusion of Daniels’ testimony, Macon County General Sessions Judge Ken Witcher bound the charges against Harrison over to the Macon County Grand Jury, which is expected to hear the case during its February term.

“Based upon the testimony that I have heard and the exhibits that have been submitted to the Court, the Court does feel that the State has established probable cause to believe that Mr. Harrison committed the three counts of criminal homicide as charged,” Witcher said.

Harrison is currently being held in the Trousdale County Jail without bond.