OK Prosecutors Hoping Charges Could Stand In 32-Year-Old Crime - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

OK Prosecutors Hoping Charges Could Stand In 32-Year-Old Crime

Posted: Updated:
In 1996, the DNA was linked to Gilbert Harris, 58, of Biloxi, Miss. In 1996, the DNA was linked to Gilbert Harris, 58, of Biloxi, Miss.
NORMAN, Oklahoma -

An alleged rapist avoided jail for more than 30 years while an innocent man served time for the crime.

The crime dates back to 1982. The rape of a student at the University of Oklahoma was pinned on an innocent man, Thomas Webb. He was wrongfully convicted and spent 13 years in prison. By 1996, Webb was exonerated.

Six years later, in 2002, DNA evidence was entered into a national database. In 1996, the DNA was linked to Gilbert Harris, 58, of Biloxi, Miss.

The evidence was sent to Oklahoma authorities, but the case fell through the cracks. Harris remained a free man. It wasn't until investigative reporters at Oklahoma Watch pushed for new DNA testing, in 2013, that Harris was connected to the crime.

Harris was charged with one count of first-degree rape and one count of forcible oral sodomy in Cleveland County, Okla. In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations in a rape case is 12 years. If everything was done by the book, it would be nearly impossible to try Harris, who's now accused of the 32-year-old crime.

"The real issue I see now…there is a very serious issue about statute of limitations on rape," said Irven Box, defense attorney for Webb.

While Box and his client would like to see the actual perpetrator brought to justice. Box knows the statute of limitation can be extended three years from the date a DNA match is made, but he is concerned the problem could lie in which DNA match the court decides to look at. The match made in 2006 or 2013.

"A defense attorney may come in and get a judge to agree that the statute has run and this guy is guilty as sin, but we can’t do anything with him," said Box.

Cleveland County Prosecutors are confident they will be able to circumvent the statute of limitations, if it becomes an issue. Prosecutors pointed to the exception that can be made when a suspect flees the jurisdiction, as Harris did in this case.

Harris was arrested in Mississippi and is currently fighting extradition back to Oklahoma.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Kingfisher Cheerleader Falls Violently Ill After High School Football Game

    Kingfisher Cheerleader Falls Violently Ill After High School Football Game

    Cordell teenager Tysen was diagnosed with not one but several rare diseases, Monday night. Cordell teenager Tysen was diagnosed with not one but several rare diseases, Monday night.
    An Oklahoma teenager is diagnosed with not one but several rare diseases.When she found out she was a cheerleader at Kingfisher High School and no one saw it coming. Sunday night 17 year old Tysen Hendricks got home from a trip to the Mayo Clinic, but just a few hours later ended up back in the hospital.More >>
    An Oklahoma teenager is diagnosed with not one but several rare diseases.When she found out she was a cheerleader at Kingfisher High School and no one saw it coming. Sunday night 17 year old Tysen Hendricks got home from a trip to the Mayo Clinic, but just a few hours later ended up back in the hospital.More >>
  • OSBI Investigating Disappearance Of Alva Man

    OSBI Investigating Disappearance Of Alva Man

    Travis Murrow texted his stepson last Sunday he was driving to Enid to pick up payment for a pickup truck he had recently sold. His family says he disappeared after that.Travis Murrow texted his stepson last Sunday he was driving to Enid to pick up payment for a pickup truck he had recently sold. His family says he disappeared after that.
    The OSBI and other authorities all over Northwest Oklahoma are looking into the disappearance of a 40-year-old Alva man.More >>
    The OSBI and other authorities all over Northwest Oklahoma are looking into the disappearance of a 40-year-old Alva man.More >>

Live Radar

ESP Interactive

Featured On News9.com

  • Consumer Watch

    Been a victim of a scam? The Consumer Watch team investigates and gives helpful advice.

  • Local News

    Get the latest breaking news, current events and headlines effecting Oklahomans.

  • My 2 Cents

    Join Kelly Ogle in a community conversation about important Oklahoma issues.

  • 9 Investigates

    Are you aware of incidents of fraud, corruption, government waste? We investigate.

Powered by WorldNow
News 9
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
OKLAHOMA CITY'S OWN TM
Oklahoma's Own News9.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state including Oklahoma City's Own.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014, WorldNow and KWTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.