Jury selection begins in Selwyn Days retrial for 1996 Eastchester slayings

After a winter break, Completely Legal is back with news from the courts of the Lower Hudson Valley.

Today, jury selection began in the retrial of Selwyn Days (left), charged with two counts of murder and related charges for the brutal 1996 slayings of Eastchester millionaire Archie Harris and his home healthcare worker, Betty Ramcharan. The trial was supposed to start in November before acting state Supreme Court Justice Robert Holdman. It was postponed and reassigned to Westchester County Judge Barry Warhit. It’s expected to last more than a month.

This will be Days’ third trial for the same crime; the first one in 2003 ended in a hung jury and the second in 2004 ended with a conviction that was overturned in December 2009, after four witnesses came forward and said Days was in North Carolina from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21, 1996 — the time frame in which authorities said the killings took place.

Days, a former Mount Vernon resident, is accused of killing at Harris’ Berkley Circle home Nov. 21, 1996. Harris’ body was on a blood-soaked carpet in his bedroom next to a bloody baseball bat; Ramcharan’s was in a bathroom, next to a kitchen knife. Harris’ dog was also found dead.

Days’ mother, Stella, used to work for Harris and had accused Harris of sexually abusing her a few months before the killings. Her son, who has a criminal record, was not arrested until February 2001, when he violated a protection order by going to the home of his ex-girlfriend, who then suggested that police look at him for the killings.

No forensic evidence linked Days to the crime. Prosecutors relied on a taped statement in which Days acknowledged going to Harris’ home to confront him about the alleged abuse and admitted to hitting him with a baseball bat after he used a racial slur, then stabbed him with a kitchen knife, which he used to slash Ramcharan’s throat when she walked in.

A convict who said Selwyn Days admitted in prison to killing Harris and Ramcharan is expected to testify for the prosecution. Days’ alibi witnesses, who prosecutors say have close ties to Stella Days, will testify for the defense.

Days’ appeal is being championed by the Manhattan-based Exoneration Initiative and led by Manhattan defense lawyer Roberto Finzi. They claim Days was coerced into confessing to the crime by detectives who took advantage of his low IQ.

Rebecca Baker

Rebecca Baker joined The Journal News in March 2004. She covers Eastchester, Bronxville and Tuckahoe, and was previously the state and county courts reporter in Westchester County. In prior jobs, she covered the Town of Greenburgh and Rockland County government and politics. Before coming to The Journal News, she was a municipal reporter for newspapers in New Haven, Conn. and Warren, Ohio.