Melvin Harris was convicted of fatally attacking Leon Armstrong, who was accused of trying to enter his teen daughter’s restroom stall at a gas station in Phoenix, Arizona.
Shortly before midnight on Aug. 2, 2018, Harris, then 41, waited outside the QuikTrip convenience store on Dunlap and 19th avenues while his daughter and her friends went inside.
They were supposedly going inside to use the restroom and buy drinks.
When his daughter returned to the vehicle, she told him that a man, later identified as Armstrong, 26, followed her and her friends into the women’s restroom.
That’s when she claimed he tried to enter her stall, but it was locked.
Harris reported the incident to the store’s security guard, who told him that they would handle the situation. Harris allegedly said that if they didn’t, he would handle it himself.
He then told a store clerk that “he [Armstrong] needs his a** beat… Imma beat his a**,” according to court documents.
The store clerk tried to intervene by telling Harris that he shouldn’t confront Armstrong about the incident, but he did so anyway.
When he saw Armstrong in the parking lot, witnesses said he punched him in the face, which caused him to fall to the ground.
He then continued to punch, kick, and stomp Armstrong until he was unconscious, OXYGEN reported.
Armstrong, who had a blood alcohol content of 0.087, sustained a broken nose and brain injuries.
Emergency medical services were called to the scene, and they subsequently transported him to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead a few days later.
Relatives of the victim told reporters that, although he suffered from mental health issues, he was never considered a pedophile. They added that they knew he “was not going in there to do anything to those young ladies.”
According to a medical examiner, the “beating, coupled with Armstrong’s intoxicated state, was lethal.”
Armstrong’s cause of death was alcohol concussive syndrome.
After beating Armstrong at the QuikTrip convenience store, Harris fled the scene while the victim lay “snoring and moaning” on the ground, according to The Washington Post.
Investigators later found Harris at his home, and they took him to the police headquarters for questioning. While there, he admitted to being involved in the incident.
Harris said he punched Armstrong in the face, but he only did it after he hit him first. He also denied hitting Armstrong while he was on the ground.
Several witnesses apprised police officers that Harris attacked Armstrong first, and he continued hitting and kicking him while he was on the ground.
Harris was arrested and booked into the Maricopa County Jail on charges of aggravated assault, resulting in serious bodily injury. His bond was set at $100,000.
When detectives ascertained that Armstrong succumbed to his injuries, Harris’ charges were amended to second-degree murder.
On Nov. 4, 2019, Harris accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to manslaughter—a class 2 felony.
It was reported that Harris was no stranger to the law. He had been arrested 17 times, and six of those arrests were for violent crimes, officials said.
In a sentencing memorandum, Deputy County Attorney Jane Schneider wrote: “The defendant took matters in his own hands and decided he was going to be judge, jury, and executioner.”
After the incident, Schneider stated that Harris “did not seek help for the victim even though it was evident he was gravely injured.”
On Dec. 13, 2019, Harris was sentenced to eight years in prison.
He received credit for time already served, which was 496 days, and he is scheduled to be released in 2025.