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Cedar Rapids man charged in 2017 homicide also facing sexual abuse charges

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — A 19-year-old man is behind bars after being charged in a November 2017 homicide.

Leland Harris was found murdered on Nov. 22, 2017, in a Cedar Rapids alley

On November 22, 2017, Cedar Rapids police found 34-year-old Leland Harris dead in an alley in the 500 block of 10th Street SW. It was later determined he was shot and killed.

Until now, officials hadn’t arrested anyone for his murder.

In a release from CRPD, it said 19-year-old James Stephan Phillips, of Cedar Rapids, was charged with murder in the first degree.

Phillips was also charged with first-degree theft, conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and going armed with intent.

Police say Phillips was already booked in the Linn County Jail on non-related charges.

The investigation, police say, is ongoing.

UPDATE: James Phillips, 19, had an initial appearance at the Linn County Courthouse this morning.

Phillips is facing charges of conspiracy to commit forcible felony, 1st-degree-murder, going armed with intent, and 1st-degree-theft, for the 2017 homicide of Leland Harris.

Phillips appeared through a television monitor and his bond was set at $1 million, cash only.

Another appearance for Phillips was scheduled for next week.

According to a criminal complaint, investigators with the Cedar Rapids Police Department determined Phillips was allegedly a passenger in the backseat of a vehicle Harris was in. Phillips was allegedly armed with a firearm and shot Harris from the backseat, killing him. Phillips then, allegedly shot Harris two more times, after pushing him out of the vehicle and stole Harris’ wallet and cellphone. The complaint goes on to say that Phillips allegedly planned the attack, with the intent to kill Harris.

Witness’ present at the scene identified Phillips as the person who shot and killed Harris, according to court documents. Phillips also allegedly admitted to police that he was in the vehicle, and the only person in possession of a firearm.

Phillips is also facing two counts of charges of sexual abuse in the 3rd degree. According to court documents, Phillips allegedly sexually abused a child on June 24th, 2018. That child was twelve or thirteen years old at the time. Investigators with the Cedar Rapids Police Department recovered text messages that confirmed the child’s report.

A jury trial for this case is schedule for May 6th, 2019.

Phillips was recently found guilty of assault with a firearm, in February. According to court documents Phillips pistol wiped a man. After he was arrested by police, a backpack containing four firearms was found on Phillips. He was sentenced to 8 days in jail, time served, and a fine.


Jalyn Souchek


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