She hopes killer seeks God’s forgiveness because she can’t forgive him, victim’s grandmother tells Rogers man

Jesse Stanford
Jesse Stanford

BENTONVILLE -- A grandmother told Jesse James Stanford he stole her family's normalcy along with her grandson's life when he killed him.

"I stand before you today representing the multitude of lives that have been affected due to the events of Aug. 11, 2021," Jacquelyn Harris said as she stood in the courtroom Wednesday. "On that day we lost an amazing man who was a husband, son, grandson, nephew, friend and soon to be daddy."

She described her grandson as larger than life.

"He had the biggest heart, always took care of his people and never left without saying 'I love you,'" she said. "His smile and laugh were contagious."

Stanford didn't react as Harris spoke. He stood a short distance from her.

Stanford, 22, of Rogers admitted to killing Ru-Jauree Harris, who was 22.

Stanford pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and tampering with evidence. He was originally charged with capital murder but agreed to plead guilty to the lesser murder charge.

Bryan Sexton, deputy prosecutor, told Benton County Circuit Judge Brad Karren that Stanford killed Harris in an attempted armed robbery. His body was found in a pickup at 2104 S. K St. in Rogers, according to court documents.

Police responded on Aug. 11, 2021, to a suspicious vehicle and found Harris with a gunshot wound to his head, according to court documents.

Stanford was interviewed by a detective with the Sheriff's Office. Stanford said Stetson Shelton set up a drug deal with Harris, documents state. Stanford said he planned the robbery and shot Harris once in self-defense after Harris attempted to strike him, according to court documents.

Stanford said the plan was to rob and shoot Harris, claiming Harris had been shorting him on marijuana for six months to a year, according to the affidavit.

Sexton said he reviewed the plea agreement with the lead detective and Harris' family and there were no objections.

Jacquelyn Harris said her grandson's wife was 8½ months pregnant when he was killed and his daughter -- Remi -- is the only piece her family has of her grandson.

"I pray that you seek God because unlike me, He forgives you," she read. "I pray that you think about Ru-Jauree every day, about his family, about his daughter. I pray that you know that even on your absolute worst day in prison, your pain is still nothing compared to that which you inflicted on us."

Stanford declined to speak when Karren gave him the opportunity.

Karren sentenced Stanford to 40 years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Stanford will have to serve at least 28 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.

Shelton, 25, of Huntsville, is charged with aggravated robbery, hindering apprehension or prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, possession of firearm by certain person and delivery of a controlled substance.

Damon George, 25, of Rogers, is charged with hindering apprehension or prosecution and tampering with physical evidence.

George and Shelton are being held in the Benton County Jail on $250,000 and $750,000 cash-only bonds, respectively.