CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Before a man sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Orange Park veterinary technician gets a new trial next month, News4Jax on Thursday spoke with a woman who will testify.
Andrea Boyer, 25, was found dead by her co-workers in January 2007 inside the Wells Road Veterinary Medical Center in Orange Park. Investigators said Michael Renard Jackson did not know Boyer when he attacked her,
Jackson was sentenced to death, but that and his murder conviction were later thrown out on appeal.
Michal Harris, Boyer's friend and coworker, said she's looking forward to finally getting closure, but said having another trial is like reliving her friend's death for a third time.
Harris, a veterinarian and the owner of Sixth Street Veterinary Hospital, said she will never forget the day Boyer was found dead.
"If I lived through Jan. 23, 2007, if I physically survived that day and went on and was still able to be a productive human being, then what I am facing today is no big deal, and even worse for Andrea's family," Harris said.
Next month, Boyer's family and friends will be reminded of that day when Jackson gets a new trial in Boyer's death.
The Florida Supreme Court reversed Jackson's murder conviction and death sentence in 2012 after the 5-2 majority found that a videotape of Jackson's interrogation prejudiced his Clay County jury because detectives repeatedly expressed their view that he was guilty.
Harris is one of several witnesses who will have to testify again next month.
"We will do what we have to do because getting justice for Andrea is the most important thing," Harris said. "Her family and legacy deserve closure."
According to prosecutors, Boyer was at work, preparing for the day when the violent attack happened.
Harris hopes that people will use the tragedy to me mindful of their surroundings when they go to work.
"This crime happened at 6 a.m. to a person that was doing nothing more than showing up for work in a place that had always been extremely safe," Harris said.
As the trial date nears, Harris said she misses Boyer, who she described as quirky, unique and a woman who never had a bad day.
"I just miss her, you know. She was someone who was great to have in our lives," she said. "I will always remember being with her, as being a person that who never met a stranger and never had a bad day in her life."
The case and others led to reform in how the state handles violent sexual offenders.