Saturday, August 31, 2002

Charge brought in 1998 killing


Murderer's niece indicted for helping

By Jim Hannah, jhannah@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — The niece of a man who pleaded guilty to murdering a Highlands High School student now stands charged in connection with the nearly four-year-old killing.

        Tabitha Hall, whose address was not available, was named publicly for the first time Friday, when a Kenton County grand jury indicted her as an adult on one count of criminal facilitation to murder. She was 15 at the time of the homicide.

        She is accused of being with her uncle, Jeffrey Gabbard, when he killed 17-year-old Jennifer Harber of Fort Thomas in December 1998. Investigators say Miss Harber, a Highlands High School junior, was killed because she would not give Mr. Gabbard her car. He wanted to run away with his niece, he told police.

        Mr. Gabbard, a convicted burglar and drug seller, had been out of an Ohio prison about two months when he killed Miss Harber. He was wanted at the time for a parole violation in Ohio.

        Mr. Gabbard, formerly of Price Hill, will spend the rest of his life in prison under a plea agreement he reached in 2000 with Kenton Circuit Judge Steve Jaeger. Mr. Gabbard agreed not to appeal any aspect of his case in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty — even though he once wrote to the judge asking to be sentenced to death.

        “There is not a day that has passed since Jennifer Harber's murder where Tabitha Hall has not felt sorrow to the depths of her soul for her involvement in Jennifer Harber's death, and the pain it has caused the Harber family,” said Ms. Hall's attorney, W. Robert Lotz of Covington. “Tabitha has required extensive mental health treatment for the trauma left by Gabbard's acts.”

        He said she should not be prosecuted, because she did not “criminally facilitate” the homicide.

        Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Bill Crockett couldn't be reached.

       



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