Child’s OD death leads to manslaughter indictment

Willie Lee Harris Jr. remains in custody

Willie Lee Harris Jr. in his first court appearance in Portland, October 18, 2016 (KOIN)
Willie Lee Harris Jr. in his first court appearance in Portland, October 18, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A grand jury filed new charges against a 35-year-old man who is accused of causing the death of his nephew after the boy ingested methadone.

Originally, Willie Lee Harris Jr. was only charged with one count of criminally negligent homicide, but on Tuesday, a grand jury handed up an indictment that charges Harris with one count of second-degree manslaughter, tampering with physical evidence, first-degree criminal mistreatment and unlawful possession of heroin.

According to police, their investigation started October 10 when homicide detectives and detectives assigned to the Child Abuse Team were called to a hospital to investigate the death of 2-year-old Reginald Harris Jr.

Homicide detectives determined that the child died of a lethal dose of methadone.

Detectives do not believe that Harris intentionally gave his nephew methadone. They say it was left in a place where the child had access to it. Harris’ family told KOIN 6 News the methadone was left inside Harris’ vehicle.

In a prepared statement, the bureau said, “This case is a tragic reminder to keep all prescription drugs in a safe place where children do not have access to them.”

Harris is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday morning at the Multnomah County Justice Center. He remains in custody.