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James Cornell HARROD





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Murder for hire - Inheritance
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 1, 1988
Date of arrest: September 14, 1995
Date of birth: December 27, 1953
Victim profile: Jeanne Tovrea
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Maricopa County, Arizona, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 27, 1998. Resentenced to death on October 28, 2005
photo gallery

Supreme Court of Arizona


opinion CR-05-0461-AP


James Harrod – white, age 34 (re-sentencing after an appellate reversal) 

Sentenced to death in Maricopa County, Arizona 

By:  A jury 

Date of Crime:  04/01/1988 

Prosecution’s case/defense response: 

Harrod broke into Jeanne Tovrea’s house and shot her five times in the head.  The prosecution believed that Tovrea’s step-son hired Harrod to kill Tovrea for a four million dollar inheritance.  Evidence included a $35,000 payment from Tovrea’s step-son to Harrod and Harrod’s fingerprints in Tovrea’s house.  Harrod was not arrested until 1995 when police matched his fingerprints.  Harrod was convicted and sentenced to death in 1997. 

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld his conviction but overturned his death sentence based on the United States Supreme Court’s Ring decision.  In the penalty phase the defense argued that Harrod did not kill for money.  No charges have been brought against Tovrea’s step-son. 

Prosecutor(s):  unknown

Defense lawyer(s):  Lynn Burns, Lawrence Matthew 


James Cornell Harrod - Inmate 136270

On April 1, 1988, well-known socialite Jeanne Tovrea was shot 5 times in the head as she slept in her bed in her Paradise Valley home.

The police collected fingerprints at the kitchen window point of entry and inside the house.

The investigation stalled until January 1994 when an anonymous tipster watched an Unsolved Mystery TV program on the killing and identified the voice of suspect "Gordon Phillips" on Jeanne's answering machine as that of Harrod.

Several months later a second tip led police to Harrod's former wife who told them Harrod had told her he was paid $100,000 to kill Jeanne because her stepson, Ed (Hap) Tovrea, wanted her dead so he could inherit from his late father's estate.

Harrod was flush with unexplained cash after the murder. Harrod's fingerprints matched 18 fingerprints taken at the scene. Police discovered a money trial, phone records, and a bogus business deal linking Harrod with Hap Tovrea.


Presiding Judge: Honorable Ronald S. Reinstein
Prosecutor: Paul Ahler
Start of Trial: October 15, 1997
Verdict: November 18, 1997
Sentencing: May 27, 1998

Aggravating Circumstances

Pecuniary gain

Mitigating Circumstances

Lack of a criminal record
Adjustment to incarceration
Family issues


None at this time

Part of the Ring Consolidated opinion.  His sentence was vacated and the case has been remanded for re-sentencing.

Previously Vacated:  Re-sentenced to Death 10/28/05


State of Arizona v. James Cornell Harrod



Ed Tovrea Sr. married Jeanne Tovrea in 1973. Jeanne had an adult daughter from a previous marriage, Debbie Luster. Ed had three children, Ed Jr., Georgia, and Priscilla. When Ed Sr. died in 1983 his estate was worth approximately $8 million. His will provided that each of his children would receive $200,000, which would be distributed in monthly payments of $1,500.

Jeanne received certain real estate, and various outright gifts of stock and personal property listed in the will. The remainder of Ed Sr.’s estate was put into a Qualified Terminable Interest Property, or Q-tip, trust. Jeanne was entitled to all of the income from the trust during her lifetime and the trustees were permitted to invade the corpus of the trust for her benefit; upon her death the trust would pass to Ed Sr.’s three children.

Just before 1:00 a.m. on the morning of April 1st, 1988, Phoenix Police Officers responded to an alarm call at Jeanne Tovrea’s home. A kitchen window and its weather-stripping had been completely removed and was sitting on a chair on the patio; an arcadia door was open. Jeanne was found dead in her bed with the comforter covering her body. She had been shot five times in the head with a .22 caliber gun; twice through a pillow and three times at close range. Several drawers from a jewelry case had been removed and set on furniture and Jeanne’s purse had been dumped out on the kitchen counter. The rest of the house appeared undisturbed. At the time of Jeanne’s death, the Q-tip trust was worth approximately $4 million.

James Harrod was arrested for his involvement in the murder of Jeanne Tovrea on September 14th, 1995. At this point, police investigators had developed the following evidence: bank records showing large money transfers from Ed Tovrea Jr. to Harrod; telephone records showing calls between Ed Jr. and James Harrod; and statements to friends regarding the jewelry and credit cards which were missing.

In addition, after being offered immunity, Anne Costello, Harrod’s ex-wife, told police that: Harrod told her that he had been hired by Ed Jr. to coordinate a hit on Jeanne for $100,000; Harrod told her that he had posed as Gordon Phillips to interview Jeanne before her death; when Harrod left their house on March 31st, he said he was going to supervise the murder and told her that it was done when he returned on the morning of April 1st; Harrod spoke to Ed Jr. on the telephone the morning of April 1st; Harrod and Anne suddenly had large sums of money that were unaccounted for; Harrod received Fed Ex boxes full of cash from Ed Jr.; and Harrod kept Jeanne’s jewelry and credit cards in their house for a time before burying them in the desert. Latent fingerprints from Jeanne’s kitchen counter, the outside of the window pane, the inside of the window pane, and a gate on her property were all matched to inked prints of James Harrod on the date of his arrest.

A jury convicted Harrod of both premeditated murder and felony murder of Jeanne Tovrea on November 18, 1997. A judge sentenced Harrod to death on May 27, 1998. This Court affirmed his conviction and death sentence in 2001. State v. Harrod, 200 Ariz. 309, 26 P.3d 492 (2001) (Harrod I).

In 2002, the United States Supreme Court remanded the case for further consideration in light of Ring v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 584 (2002) (Ring II). Harrod v. Arizona, 536 U.S. 953 (2002). This Court vacated the judgment and remanded for resentencing in 2003. State v. Harrod, 204 Ariz. 567, 65 P.3d 948 (2003) (Harrod II).

The latest sentencing proceeding began on September 13, 2005. During the penalty phase, Harrod provided evidence, and the jury was instructed on the following mitigating circumstances: uncharged co-perpetrator; impact of execution on defendant’s family and friends; lack of criminal history; mental abuse by father during childhood; alcoholic father; past good conduct and character; absence of other violent acts; commission of the offense was out-of-character; educational accomplishments; good behavior during pre-trial incarceration; good behavior during post-sentencing incarceration; good conduct during trial; love for and of family; and divorced parents.

On October 12, 2005, the jury found that the State had proved beyond a reasonable doubt the pecuniary gain aggravating factor. The jury found that the mitigation evidence was not substantial enough to call for leniency and determined that Harrod should be sentenced to death. The trial judge subsequently sentenced Harrod to death by lethal injection on October 26, 2005.



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