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Man wants to withdraw his guilty plea in murder of Heidy Villanueva

File photo of Stanley Harris III in court.
File photo of Stanley Harris III in court.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man who pleaded guilty in November to third-degree murder in the 2018 shooting death of Heidy Villanueva wants to withdraw his guilty plea, according to court documents.

The 7-year-old girl was killed when caught in the middle of a shootout in a Westside shopping center in August 2018.

Edward Garcia pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact, Abrion Price pleaded guilty to second-degree felony murder, Trevonte Phoenix pleaded guilty to second-degree felony murder and Stanley Harris III pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in the 7-year-old’s death.

There’s a sentencing hearing Jan. 27. But, according to a motion filed last month, Harris wants to withdraw his guilty plea.

According to the defense motion, prosecutors have no physical evidence that Harris fired the fatal shot. A bullet was recovered from the car in which Heidy was sitting, but the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office never recovered guns from any of the suspects. The Sheriff’s Office confronted Harris during the interrogation and repeatedly told him he killed Heidy, according to the motion. That conclusion was drawn from surveillance video and bullet trajectory analysis, the motion shows.

The defense hired its own expert, who says only two slugs hit Heidy’s car, and from where Harris was standing in the shootout, it would have been impossible for him to have fired the fatal shot. The motion shows Harris fired 11 shots, judging from the number of shell casings JSO picked up. He misunderstood the nature of the evidence and now wants to withdraw his plea.

There’s a motion hearing Jan. 16.