Man pleads guilty to killing teenage girlfriend

Michael Harris Jr., the Woodbridge man who pleaded guilty to murdering his teenage girlfriend at a Red Roof Inn near Manassas, will be sentenced on Valentine’s Day.

Harris, 20, killed Latrice Nashelle Burke, 19, his girlfriend with whom he shared a child, on Dec. 13, 2001, during an argument over money.

He entered a guilty plea to second degree murder in Prince William Circuit Court on Tuesday and Judge William D. Hamblen scheduled a sentencing hearing Feb. 14.

The only witness called to the stand Tuesday was Prince William Police Detective James Moore. According to his testimony, Harris shot Burke once in the head with a gun she retrieved for him during an argument with friends.

The couple was at the Red Roof Inn visiting friends on the night of Dec. 12, and at different points during the night and early morning hours, they left to go buy PCP and marijuana.

Harris and Burke returned to the motel room and realized that $1,100 that was in Burke’s purse was missing. Harris, under the influence of drugs, accused everyone in the room of taking the money and told Burke to go get his gun, according to Moore’s testimony.

She obliged, and Harris began waving the gun around, threatening everyone in the room. Harris repeatedly asked Burke where the money was and they struggled. Witnesses heard the gun fire and Burke was struck in the head, according to testimony.

After the shooting, Harris tossed the gun in a nearby wooded area. He returned to the motel room to check on Burke and tried to pick her body up but was unable to lift her, Moore said. Harris went to a relative’s house, admitted what happened and then returned to the scene.

At the motel, Harris first told police that the gun was accidentally fired as he tried to wrestle it from someone in the room, then he said that Burke had the gun and it went off as he tried to disarm her.

According to court documents, Harris later told police, “I shot her. Lock me up, I deserve to die just like she did — I shot my baby.”

Harris faces up to 43 years in prison for second degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

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