TOPEKA (KSNT) – Justice last Friday for fallen Topeka Police Corporal Jason Harwood and his family.
The man who killed Harwood was sentenced in Shawnee County District Court to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Ross Preston Lane pleaded guilty on three felony counts including capitol murder on July 10.
During that hearing, he accepted a plea deal offered by Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor. The agreement removed the death penalty as an option for Lane’s sentencing if he pleaded guilty.
Lane admitted to killing Harwood last September during a traffic stop. Prosecutors say Lane shot him three times through the window of the car. Before the killing, Lane told the passengers in his car that he “could not go back to jail.”
Those actions made Lane, “…judge, jury and executioner all in one,” Harwood’s identical twin brother Jeremy told the court Friday.
And the last moment’s of Harwood’s life were something his friends and family asked the court to remember.
In an emotional letter to the court, Lori Harwood described trying to adjust to a life as a widow.
The letter, read by Jennifer Cross, depicted a partially complete life.
“I am so lonely. I move motionless through the days,” the letter said. “I don’t want to take family pictures because my family is not complete.”
And for the mother of two boys, she now fights to stop the visions of her husband dying.
“I keep seeing bullets, going into him and hurting him. And him lying there dead, when I thought he was bullet proof,” Lori Harwood wrote in the letter. “All I know is my hurt and my loss at times are unbearable.”
Eight people stood up and spoke on behalf of the Harwood family. But when it came time for Lane to address the court, he remained silent.
Although the sentence handed down by Shawnee County District Judge Nancy Parrish was in line with the plea agreement, Lane’s attorneys did not offer a statement.
No one from Lane’s family stood up to defend him.
But through all the heartache, anger and tears friends and family of Cpl. Jason Harwood, told the court about the man he was – the hero they lost.
“My big brother was one of the good guys. The best of the good guys,” Jennifer Waldron told the court. “He was the boy who taught me to tie my shoes…to make a potato chip sandwich.”
Harwood was remembered as a brother and a protector.
And now, the Topeka community and the law enforcement community will protect his family. Some of the speakers wanted the death penalty and openly told Parrish the life sentence was not sufficient.
But for the speakers who were unable to get the punishment they wished for, they told the court they wanted Lane to remember the pain he caused for as long as he lives.
“The only thing I can hope for is, the choice the defendant made that will lead him to a life behind bars, alone, never able to be part of his children’s lives as they grow, will haunt him until his last breath,” Holly Harwood told the court.