A prison inmate who said Selwyn Days (left) confessed two years ago to the 1996 killing an Eastchester millionaire and his home health aide will be allowed testify against him at his murder retrial this fall.
The decision by acting state Supreme Court Justice Robert Holdman could strengthen the prosecution’s case against Days, a former Mount Vernon resident who is being tried for the third time for the double slaying.
Days’ defense team tried to prevent a jury from hearing testimony from inmate Scott Irwin, saying he was a “roving agent” of the government —namely the Westchester County District Attorney’s office — which violated Days’ right to counsel. But the judge found that Scott Irwin, who is serving a seven-year sentence for robbery and attempted arson, came forward on his own.
“It was through the bars of adjoining cells that Mr. Irwin and the defendant became friends and eventual confidants,” Holdman wrote.
Days, now 45, has been incarcerated for nine years, since he was arrested in the killings. His appeal is being led by the Manhattan-based Exoneration Initiative and lawyers from two Manhattan firms. Days’ lawyers say they are prepared with not only an alibi defense but also psychological evidence showing that his confession to police was false.
At an Aug. 10 hearing in Westchester County Court, Irwin said he met Days at the Elmira Correctional Facility in September 2008. Within a month, Irwin said, Days confessed to his involvement and gave details of the slayings. He said Days was confident he would be acquitted and would become a millionaire after he sued the county.
Irwin also said Days asked him to kill his ex-girlfriend, who told police to look at Days for the two homicides and testified at his first trial that he bragged to her about the killings. He contacted Westchester prosecutors in January 2009.
The bodies of Harris, 79, and Ramcharan, 35, were discovered in 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. A plastic bag was over her head and an electric cord was around her neck.
Days’ mother, Stella, used to work for Harris and accused him of sexually abusing her several months before the killings. Her son, who had a criminal record, was not arrested until February 2001, after he violated a protection order by going to his ex-girlfriend’s home. The woman suggested to police they look at him for the two homicides.
No forensic evidence linked Days to the scene. Prosecutors relied on a taped confession in which Days acknowledged going to Harris’ home to confront him about the abuse allegations. He said he hit Harris with a bat and stabbed him, and slashed Ramcharan’s throat when she walked into the room.
His first trial in 2003 ended in a hung jury. He was convicted a year later and sentenced to 50 years to life in prison.
Then in December, a judge threw out Days’ conviction after four witnesses testified that he was in North Carolina from Nov. 19 to 21, 1996 — the timeframe in which aurthorities said the slayings took place.
Days is currently being held on $300,000 bail at the county jail in Valhalla. Irwin is scheduled to be released on July 20, 2011.