Jury doles death to Talihina man

Twelve jurors recommended death Wednesday evening for Donnie Lee Harris Jr. for the murder by fire of 24-year-old Kristi Ferguson. Harris was convicted Tuesday of Ferguson's murder after a two-hour deliberation period and the death penalty phase of the trial began immediately. After a day and a half of testimony from Ferguson's and Harris' family in regard to the impact of the murder on them, the jury deliberated for a few hours before returning a recommendation of death for Harris. In order for the jurors to make the recommendation, they had to agree unanimously the manner of death was heinous, atrocious or particularly cruel and that more than one person risked death at Harris' hands. The night Ferguson was burned, she, Harris and four members of Harris' family were inside the home, one a young child. Around 10 p.m. Harris picked up up a Crown Royal bottle filled with gasoline and threw it on Ferguson. Then he lit her on fire, causing third-degree burns to more than 40 percent of her body and ultimately burning his family home to the ground as his family members escaped the fire. Ferguson was taken to a burn unit at a Tulsa hospital and 19 days later she died from complications brought by the burns. The jury returned from deliberation two hours and 15 minutes later to announce their recommendation that Harris should die for his crimes.