Man pleads not guilty in roommate shooting death

Nicholas Brian Harper

LANCASTER  – A 24-year-old man charged with murdering his roommate pleaded not guilty Tuesday in an Antelope Valley courtroom.

Nicholas Brian Harper was arraigned before Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Robert McSorley and was represented by Deputy Public Defender John Cho.

After pleading not guilty to a single count of murder, Harper was ordered back to custody on $2 million bail with a preliminary hearing set for April 18.

Harper stands accused of shooting and killing his roommate, James McElroy, 21, on Feb. 7 inside their apartment at the Parkwood Patio apartment complex in the 38000 block of 20th Street East in Palmdale.

Deputies from the Palmdale Station responded to the apartment complex around 8:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, after receiving a call about gunshots coming from a residence, according to Lieutenant Mary Leef of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau.

McElroy was discovered at the location with a gunshot wound to the upper torso, Leef said.

He was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead at 9:44 p.m., according to Coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter.

Harper was detained at the scene and the firearm believed to be used in the shooting was also recovered from the scene, officials said.

Harper reportedly claimed the shooting was accidental and was originally arrested on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter.

He was briefly released from custody on Feb. 14, and then re-interviewed by detectives, and re-arrested for murder that same day.

“We found conflicts with his statements and conflicts with the forensics examination, which is still ongoing,” said sheriff’s homicide detective Dan McElderry at the time.

On Feb. 16, Harper’s bail was raised to $2 million, and he has since remained in custody.

James McElroy, 21, (shown with his 2-year-old daughter Izabella).

McElroy’s relatives and friends have insisted from the outset that Harper murdered McElroy over jealousy. Read the family’s story here.

Tuesday several of McElroy’s family members sat in the courtroom to witness Harper’s arraignment.

“It kind of hurt me that he said not guilty because we know he did it,” said McElroy’s mother, Clemmie Graves. “I’m waiting for the preliminary hearing so they could put everything on the table and then they’ll see that it really is true, that he really did do it.”

Harper is due back in court on April 18 for a preliminary hearing.

  8 comments for “Man pleads not guilty in roommate shooting death

  1. Clemmie Graves
    April 4, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I can’t believe all this has takin place, I’m James’ mom, nobody understands the pain, i’m not here to talk about everybody I just want you to know the pain it’s causing me, I wake up every morning with my son not here, mind you I was the one that talked to my son more than five times a day, I will never here his voice or feel his big arms rapping around me, I’ll never feel his warm embrace, I’ll never here himsay mom i’m okay, Or see him grow up to the man he already was, All this was taken from me, I will be at every court day every judgement everything that has to do with this case, it’s not for me it’s for James..

    • Destiny Smith
      April 4, 2012 at 10:22 am

      We all now he is still with us, we all loved him dearly and he knew that, just remember that alot of people are going to support James, he touched alot of hearts, and they’re all here for him today, tomorrow, the next day, and always…

    • S. Parker
      April 4, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Ms. Grave, words cannot adequately describe how sorry I am about your loss. Reading your comment brought tears to my eyes because I too know the grief and torture of losing a cherished family member. Please find the strength to stay strong and keep going for your son’s sake. You may miss him during the day, but when you close your eyes to dream at night, he will be there. Try not to reflect on the anguish of his last moments, but instead reflect on the times he made you laugh or made you proud. Reflecting on those moments may bring a smile to your face in your darkest moments. Take comfort in those that knew and loved your son as well. Leaning on each other makes it a bit more tolerable. And lastly, at some point, try to let go of the anger that you may feeling towards Mr. Harper, you may feel less pain that way. Again, you have my sincere condolences…

      • Clemmie Graves
        April 4, 2012 at 10:48 am

        Thank you so very much, I appreciate that, I will take every single word you said into consideration, because they all make sense…:)

        • S. Parker
          April 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

          You are very welcome. Sharing with others helps ease my pain as well. So thank you, and God bless you…

  2. Destiny Graves
    April 4, 2012 at 10:10 am

    I can’t believe he pleaded not guilty, Justice is going to come and when it does it’s gonna bite him in the ass, he killed an innocent person, my brother is gonna get justice, cause when you kill an Angel you get charged for it, you should’nt kill Gods Angels. Thanx to J and Dewayne.

  3. J
    April 3, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    this is REALLY sad ! my prayers for the family of the vicitim && especially his daughter through this hard time ! :(

  4. Dewayne Culver-Johnson
    April 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    What a coward he is!!!!! I never liked him anyways!!! Pray his ass has a rough time in prison… He didn’t have to kill my nephew! Just a punk coward!!

Comments are closed.