SCHOHARIE, N.Y. – A wealthy man on trial for a fourth time since his estranged wife disappeared in 2001 was found not guilty of murder Tuesday.
The ruling for Calvin Harris came almost eight weeks after Judge Richard Mott began hearing the nonjury trial. Harris' wife, Michele, disappeared on the night of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Prosecutors argued that Calvin Harris killed his 35-year-old wife when she came home to the Southern Tier estate they shared with their four children. Two previous guilty verdicts against Harris were overturned, and a third jury trial last year ended in a mistrial.
Defense lawyers argued that authorities overlooked another suspect in the area from Texas as the couple's marriage broke up.
Michele Harris' empty minivan was found the morning of Sept. 12, 2001, with the keys still in the ignition at the end of the couple's long driveway. Her body was never found, and prosecutors have relied on a largely circumstantial case, along with a small amount of blood stains found in the home.
Calvin Harris, 55, was wealthy from his family's car dealerships, and court papers say he told people his wife would not get half his business as divorce loomed.
A 2007 conviction against Harris was set aside when a new witness potentially helpful to the defense belatedly came forward. A second guilty verdict in 2009 was overturned based on trial-court errors. Jurors in the third trial last year failed to reach a verdict after 11 days of deliberations.
This was the second trial held in rural Schoharie, more than 100 miles from where the highly publicized case originated.