A Duluth man was sentenced Monday to nearly 22 years in prison for his role in a Lincoln Park home invasion and sexual assault of a minor.
Jaquan Lamarr Harkins, 27, was the second to plead guilty in the case, which Judge Dale Harris described as "the worst nightmare for any member of the community." His cousin, Christian Hamzah Coleman, now 20, is already serving a prison term in excess of 18 years.
"This is a horrific set of facts. There's really no way around that," Harris said. "You obviously have had some time to think about the how and the why, and you know that you're going to have quite a bit more time to think about that."
Harkins repeatedly apologized as he pleaded guilty on April 1 to aiding and abetting first-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of first-degree burglary.
The defendant testified that he accompanied Coleman and a third man, whose identity he said he did not know, to a house on the 600 block of Atlantic Avenue in the early morning of March 13, 2019. He said he was "in a dark place" and needed money, so he followed Coleman in search for goods to steal.
Harkins said he was surprised by how many people were inside the house. He said he and Coleman were exchanging a BB gun, which resembled a real handgun, and that they both used it to strike the victims while directing them to a couch in the living room.
Court documents previously described how multiple residents were awoken by masked men who demanded drugs and money. Two adults and two preteen children were ordered to the couch before Harkins said he went to rummage through the basement and found the teenage girl.
The defendant said his first thought was to bring her upstairs to the rest of the family, but instead "I asked her for sexual favors." Upon further questioning, Harkins admitted using the threat of the BB gun to force the victim to perform oral sex. He said Coleman then came downstairs and did the same.
Eventually, the three men left with the victim's phones, a TV and a small amount of marijuana and cash. Harkins testified they traveled a few blocks and threw the TV into a trash can. He said he then got into a dispute with Coleman and left his cousin and the other man.
Coleman, who was casually known by the teen victim, was later arrested based on a photo lineup identification. A DNA sample from the scene later identified Harkins as one of the perpetrators, with Coleman also implicating him in testimony.
St. Louis County prosecutor Vicky Wanta successfully argued for Harkins to receive the 260-month sentence, which includes 172 months consecutive to 88 months for burglary. After serving at least two-thirds of the sentence in prison, Harkins must spend another 10 years on conditional release.
Wanta said the sentence was structured to match that of Coleman, who was ordered by Judge Shaun Floerke in October 2019 to serve 220 months — the only difference being Harkins' criminal history resulting in higher guidelines under state law.
"Based on Mr. Harkins' plea, he was very open about what he did, and he even talked about why he did it, which he did not even have to go into," Wanta told the court. "I don't want to take any of that away from Mr. Harkins at all. What he did to this family is not an easy thing for someone to admit to.
"However, what he did to this family is also not an easy thing for someone to live through. The reason I cannot agree to (a lesser sentence) in this case is because of the inhumanity that Mr. Harkins and his co-defendants showed to this family."
Defense attorney Rebecca Shaw had discretion under the terms of a plea agreement to file a motion for a departure from guidelines. But she told the judge that Harkins would not exercise that option, instead requesting a 232-month term that would fall within the guideline range.
"These two individuals are clearly distinguishable," she said. "To sentence Mr. Harkins, who has shown remorse, at the same level as Mr. Coleman, who even through his own plea never accepted responsibility and could not show remorse, would not be a sentence that falls within the interests of justice."
While victim-impact statements were heard at Coleman's sentencing, Wanta told the court that none requested to be heard or even attend Monday's Zoom hearing. But Harkins again took an opportunity to apologize.
"I'm very sorry," he said from the St. Louis County Jail. "I know there's nothing I could do to take back what happened on the night of March 13. I hope we all can grow from this situation and change in a better way, and I hope with this time I'm receiving I can come out and become a better man — not only for myself, but for my son and my family."
Harris, after briefly pausing the hearing to deliberate, said he appreciated Harkins' candor, but he cited public safety concerns in imposing the prosecution's requested sentence.
"Frankly, there's a significant risk to community safety if you don't gain some insight into why something like this could happen — why you did what you did," the judge said.
Harkins has prior convictions in Minnesota for being a felon in possession of a firearm, felony drug possession and fleeing a police officer. He also has multiple burglary, drug and theft convictions in Illinois.
There has yet to be any formal charges against the third alleged intruder in the case.