Ignoring the advice of his attorney, Paul Reed testified Wednesday in the trial of his girlfriend, Tiffany Powell, and took responsibility for the death they were both charged with causing.

“Do you know who killed James Harris?” Kerry O’Brien, Powell’s attorney asked Reed as soon as he took the witness stand in Summit County Common Pleas Court.

“Yes, sir,” responded Reed, who was sentenced to life in prison last March for Harris’ murder, but is appealing. “I did.”

Reed, however, and Powell, who also testified Wednesday, both said they had no intention of harming Harris, Powell’s ex-boyfriend and the father of five of her eight children. Instead, they both said they wanted to lure the 69-year-old Canton man to Akron to catch him violating a protection order Powell thought was still in place so that she could regain custody of her children.

“We had a plan and it went wrong,” Powell said.

The trial, which started last Thursday in Judge Tom Teodosio’s courtroom, will resume Thursday morning with Assistant Prosecutor Jonathan Baumoel cross-examining Powell, followed by closing arguments.

Powell, 34, is charged with aggravated murder and obstruction of official business. Harris was killed April 26, 2014, in the basement of Powell and Reed’s Minota Avenue home, where Harris thought he was going to purchase a car and a washer.

Prosecutors claim Powell was the mastermind behind the plan to lure Harris to Akron, but the defense argues she was motivated by a desire to protect her children and had no intention of harming Harris.

Boyfriend takes stand

Reed’s testimony, originally planned for Wednesday morning, was delayed to allow time for his appellate attorney, Jason Wallace, to be in court.

Wallace and Teodosio both advised Reed, who was subpoenaed by Powell’s defense attorney, O’Brien, that he could invoke his Fifth Amendment rights to not incriminate himself. Reed, however, remained steadfast in his desire to testify, even after Wallace interrupted the questioning several times to advise him against answering.

Reed, 40, who was dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, said he met Powell four years ago when she was living in her car with her seven children. He said he invited her and the children to live with him.

Reed said Harris was upset about their relationship and, in the summer of 2013, Harris kicked his truck, pulled Reed out of it and assaulted him with a curl bar. Reed said he reported the incident to police.

Reed said he and Powell moved several times and “Harris would come around and start trouble.” The couple moved to a home on Minota Avenue in early April. They didn’t have the children with them — Harris had custody at that point and he and Powell were battling for custody in court — and Powell was 8½ months pregnant with Reed’s child.

Plan goes awry

On the day of Harris’ death, Reed said he learned about a plan concocted by Powell and a woman she had met in a domestic violence shelter. The woman, whom Powell paid $100, would call Harris, known for buying and fixing vehicles and other items, about buying a car from her and get him to come to Powell and Reed’s home. When Harris arrived, Powell would call the police and report him for violating a protection order that she didn’t realize was no longer active. They also expected Harris to leave the children at home during his trip to Akron, which could land him in trouble.

Reed said Harris was only supposed to go into the garage to see the car and not come into the house. Instead, Reed said Harris came into the basement of the house holding a gun.

Reed said he and Harris began to scuffle, with his focus on getting the weapon from him. He said he punched Harris and slammed his face into the concrete basement floor several times, stopping when the gun fell out of Harris’ hand. By that point, Reed said Harris wasn’t moving much and Powell called the police.

O’Brien asked if Reed or Powell ever planned to hurt or kill Harris. Reed said they did not.

Baumoel questioned Reed at length about the assault, asking if he pushed or banged Harris’ head into the floor.

“You have to push it to make it bang,” Reed answered.

“A man died,” Baumoel responded. “You slammed his head into the ground again and again, so much so that you pulled out his hair.”

Baumoel showed Reed and the jurors a photograph from the crime scene in which clumps of hair were visible around Harris’ body.

Reed admitted during his testimony that he lied to detectives when they questioned him after Harris’ death, including not telling them about the involvement of Powell’s friend.

Powell, who also admitted to initially lying to detectives, detailed her tumultuous, on-again/off-again relationship with Harris that included several domestic violence charges against Harris, trips to domestic violence shelters and custody disputes. Despite this, she said she still cared for Harris and didn’t want to see him harmed. She said she wanted to get back her kids, whom she found out Harris had brought with him to Akron where they waited in a van outside with Harris’ adult son.

“You told me to tell the truth,” she said to O’Brien. “The truth is I didn’t know or want for this to happen.”

Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmithabj and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith.