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Danny Ray HARRIS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 11, 1978
Date of birth: July 31, 1960
Victim profile: Timothy Michael Merka, 27
Method of murder: Beating with a tire tool
Location: Brazos County, Texas, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Texas on July 30, 1993


Date of Execution:
July 30, 1993
Danny Ray Harris #649
Last Statement:

I would like to tell my family I love them very dearly, and I know they love me. I love all of the people who supported me all of these years. I would like to tell the Merka family I love them, too. I plead with all the teenagers to stop the violence and to accept Jesus Christ and find victory. Today I have victory in Christ and I thank Jesus for taking my spirit into His precious hands. Thank you, Jesus.


Second of 2 Brothers Is Executed in Texas For Murder in 1978

The New York Times

July 31, 1993

A man convicted of holding down a "Good Samaritan" motorist while his brother beat the man to death with a tire iron was executed by injection early today, nearly a month after his brother was put to death.

The United States Supreme Court voted 8 to 0 on Thursday to reject an appeal from the condemned man, 32-year-old Danny Harris.

Mr. Harris and his brother, Curtis, were sentenced for the 1978 murder of Timothy Merka in what became known as the "Good Samaritan" slaying.

Mr. Merka, 27, an employee of Texas A&M University, was attacked after pulling over to help the Harris brothers fix their car. According to testimony, Danny Harris held Mr. Merka, who was pleading for his life, while Curtis Harris clubbed the man with a tire iron. The brothers then stole his wallet and his pickup.

Curtis Harris, who was 31, was executed on July 1.

At the time of the murder, Danny Harris was 18 and Curtis Harris was 17.

'I Have Peace'

Danny Harris's lawyer, John Hottigner, insisted that his client was not the same person he was 15 years ago and that "the seed of goodness seems to have grown" in him.

For his part, Mr. Harris said in an interview this week: "I have peace. I have strength. I have courage, the comfort of Christ, the grace of God."

The Brazos County District Attorney, Bill Turner, said of Danny Harris on Thursday: "If facing the death penalty caused him to reckon with his maker, so be it. I applaud him for that. But that doesn't make me think he's any less dangerous."



On the night of December 11, 1978, Curtis Paul Harris, James Manuel, Curtis's girlfriend Valerie Rencher and his brother Danny Harris drove their car to visit a friend in Bryan. Upon arriving at the friend's house they discovered she was not there. Their car would not start, and the three men began to beat up the car and tear up the interior.

When no neighbor could be found to help with the car the group walked down the road and flagged a passing pick-up truck. A would-be Good Samaritan, Tim Merka, stopped his truck and attempted for 20-25 minutes to repair their car. Frustrated at the car's continued breakdown, the group decided to take Merka's truck.

Danny pushed Merka down and pinned him to the ground. While Danny sat on Merka's chest, Curtis Harris began to beat him in the head with an automobile jack. Valerie Rencher testified that she begged him to stop but Harris hit the victim at least six more times. Merka died of severe injuries to the head and brain. He suffered fifteen head lacerations that were consistent with having been inflicted by a bumper jack shaft and ratchet mechanism.

The group's destructive instincts were not yet sated. Leaving Merka's body in a ditch, they absconded with his pick-up, appropriated his shotgun and drove to a U-Totem store in Waller, which they robbed at gunpoint of the cash in the till and a change bottle that contained donations for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Upon their return to Bryan about midnight, Danny Harris secreted Merka's truck. The truck was found at 10:00 a.m. on December 12, 1978 on the Old Mumford Road in Bryan approximately four blocks from the Harris house.



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