By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
On November 14, St. Louis was jailed in Fontana on an outstanding arrest warrant for unpaid traffic violations. Two days later, Harmon and Kevin drove to Fontana to pick up St. Louis and her daughter, Crystal, where they’d been staying with a friend. According to pretrial testimony, when they got back to the apartment, Lucia Sanchez was smoking cigarettes on the patio. Kevin and St. Louis ditched Crystal and repaired to a bedroom closet to smoke meth.
This breach of the pact Kevin made with Harmon further inflamed the tensions among them. Later in the evening, while Kevin was taking a shower, Harmon asked St. Louis to pick him up a pack of cigarettes from a local store. After a brief, bitter argument between them, St. Louis drove off to run this errand in such a pique that her tires screeched as she sped away.
From outside the bathroom, Harmon overheard a cell-phone conversation between Kevin and St. Louis.
“You just left? When I’m done taking a shower, I’ll meet up with you,” Harmon heard Kevin say.
Sanchez gave authorities a chilling account of what happened next. At about 1:30 a.m. on the morning of November 17, from the patio, she heard screaming. Not realizing the source of the cries, she ran inside and entered the bathroom, where she saw Harmon, dressed, on top of Kevin, who was naked in the bathtub. Harmon appeared to have smashed Kevin’s head through the drywall. Sanchez told detectives Harmon was plunging and twisting a 6-inch knife inside Kevin’s neck. Blood coated the walls and the floor.
“No, Ernie,” Kevin pleaded, while Sanchez shouted at Harmon, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” She started to run back outside. “Don’t go!” Harmon ordered. “Don’t leave!” Sanchez testified that Harmon’s eyes were rolled back in his head, maniacally. She ran from the house and immediately called her ex-boyfriend, Richard Meza, who advised her to call the police immediately.
Now out on the street, Harmon saw his reflection in a car mirror and was shocked that he was covered in blood. The responding sheriff was initially concerned that Harmon had injured himself. “I stabbed by girlfriend’s boyfriend,” Harmon told him. “It’s bad.”
That same afternoon, Kimberly returned from her classes to her grandmother’s home. As she pulled into the driveway, she noticed a family friend leaving the property. “I could tell something was really wrong,” Kimberly recalls. “She said, ‘Just take care of Grandma, okay?’?”
Kevin’s funeral, packed with family and friends and community, took place at the same La Quinta church that the twins had attended as children. Father Jack Barker’s eulogy described how ever since his mother’s death, Kevin suffered from “a pain in the heart that would not go away.”
After a year of postponements, Ernest Harmon’s trial is now scheduled for no later than March 2007. The charge is first-degree murder. The defense will argue for a charge of voluntary manslaughter, based on a crime of passion rather than premeditation.
Kimberly has moved once again, this time with Johnson, to the outskirts of San Diego, where she’s continuing her studies at Cal State San Marcos. She says that she misses her brother.
“I always think about how I’m never going to be able to see him — or not for a long, long time — and how he’s not going to be here when I get married and have kids. Even for us not being close, I still miss him. He should have had a chance to live happily,” she says, her voice breaking slightly as we sit in the Cal State San Bernardino student union. “He was so smart, he could have done anything. I used to call him ‘my encyclopedia,’ because I could ask him about anything, and he’d know.
“I’ve been taught you forgive everyone. That’s what Jesus did. It was really hard at first. Now I think [Harmon] doesn’t know why he did it either. It’s not worth hating him and thinking about him all the time. It’s better to think about my brother, happy things about my brother. My friends who were close with him get really upset and want me to hate Harmon. I say if I, as Kevin’s sister, can forgive Harmon and let it go, I think anybody can do that. It was. It happened. That’s all.”