College student charged with murder after unknowingly giving ride to killer

NASHVILLE, TN- For generations parents have told their children “be careful of the company you keep.” And for generations young adults have made bad choices in friends. But most times they are able to break ties with the “company” before the “company” brings them down. RaVaughn Harris was not so lucky.

One evening RaVaughn did a favor for an acquaintance and his life has now been changed forever.

On October 26, 2008 Harris got a call from Jason Bobo asking for a ride. Harris knew Bobo as a student at Tennessee State University (TSU). “Bobo was sort of homeless. He was just always around,” said Harris’ attorney Joy Kimbrough.

RaVaughn Harris

In an exclusive interview with The Key Newsjournal Kimbrough revealed that police reports say that Bobo called Harris about seven times that night, because it was taking him so long to get there. Harris came to TSU from Chicago so he didn’t know the city of Nashville that well and was lost. According to Kimbrough, when Harris finally found the location Bobo and Crystle Rutherford got in the car and then told him what they had just done.

Bobo and Rutherford murdered two pizzeria workers during a robbery. “Bobo told police that when he told RaVaughn this, he looked like he was crying,” said Kimbrough.
Police questioned all three of them and on October 29, 2007 Bobo and Rutherford were arrested. According to Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) statements, both gave “full confessions” when questioned.

“Bobo told police that RaVaughn was his getaway plan all along, but RaVaughn didn’t know,” says Kimbrough.

It took six months before an indictment came down from the Grand Jury and based on a presentation by the prosecutor RaVaughn was also indicted. On April 28, 2008 RaVaughn was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery even though he has plead innocent the entire time and has never been implicated as a party to the crime by Bobo or Rutherford.

A grand jury only hears information presented by prosecutors and their witnesses. There is no defense allowed. “Most cases before the grand jury go to trial,” said Harris’s attorney. “This is a highly publicized case and I believe the prosecution still wants RaVaughn to strike a deal, but he doesn’t know anything and is not willing to lie. All the calls to RaVaughn by Bobo were short ones just asking for a ride and giving directions. Bobo said he didn’t tell RaVaughn anything before he got there and I don’t see why he’d lie about that after he confessed to the murders.”

Prosecutors have added Harris to the case but have not arrested the person who got Bobo and Rutherford to the scene of the crime. “That has bothered me. The unindicted individual admitted to letting Bobo drive her car to the location and she said that she saw a gun and both of them [Bobo and Rutherford] in costume when they left her car. She got back in the car and drove away. Police records show the she and Bobo had over 200 text or phone calls the week of the crime.”

Kimbrough successfully got her clients’ case separated from that of Bobo and Rutherford. “No one claims that RaVaughn was there and I don’t want any spill over effect for him. There was a horrific murder scene and Bobo is on videotape and has confessed. The evidence against him is overwhelming and they are going for the death penalty. I didn’t want RaVaughn tied to him at all,” she said.
A fourth defendant was arrested almost a year after the murders, Tarina Simmons was charged with first-degree murder in September of this year.
RaVaughn’s trial has been set for May 18, 2009 and Jason Bobo will proceed him in court on April 20, 2009.

This is the first in a multi- part series on this case. The next installment will look at the prosecutors and detectives associated with this case. And also look at a similar case in Kentucky.