Preliminary hearing postponed in roommate murder case

Nicholas Brian Harper

LANCASTER – The preliminary hearing has been postponed to May for a man accused of murdering his roommate in the Palmdale apartment they shared.

Nicholas Brian Harper, 24, appeared in court Wednesday before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Christopher Estes for a scheduled preliminary hearing.

His public defender, John Cho, requested that the preliminary hearing be postponed to allow more time to prepare the case. Judges Estes agreed to continue the preliminary hearing to Wednesday, May 2, 2012.

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

Harper reportedly told detectives the shooting was an accident. He pleaded not guilty to second degree murder on April 3.

McElroy’s family members have long insisted that the shooting was no accident. At Wednesday’s hearing, McElroy’s family members flooded the court room wearing t-shirts that bore his name and image.

Some family members had to wait outside the courtroom because there were no more seats available.

“I don’t believe it was an accident because the shooting was too precise,” said father James McElroy Sr.”We want justice, whatever that may be.”

James McElroy Jr.

McElroy Sr. said his son’s death had taken a tremendous toll on the entire family.

“My son was always thinking positive, always looking for the better in people, no matter what the situation was,” said McElroy Sr. “He was always the rock that everyone could count on, even when things were down.”

“We’re here for one reason only, to support my son because he can’t be here,” said mother Clemmie Graves. “He’s not here because he was taken away from us.”

Harper was ordered to appear in court on May 2 for his preliminary hearing and then remanded back into custody on $2 million bail.

See previous related storied:

Man pleads not guilty in roommate shooting death

Man charged in roommate murder, bail set at $2 million

Family seeks justice for man shot dead by roommate