Pastor and Civil Rights Activist Fred Harris Pressed for Early Parole of Detroit Man Who Shot His Wife (Harris’ Daughter) and Killed Her 4 Children

Gregory Green was repeatedly denied parole more than two decades after killing his wife and unborn child because he showed little remorse and blamed his victim for his actions, according to documents from the Michigan Department of Corrections. (Photo: Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)
Gregory Green was repeatedly denied parole more than two decades after killing his wife and unborn child because he showed little remorse and blamed his victim for his actions, according to documents from the Michigan Department of Corrections. (Photo: Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)

A Southfield man whose daughter was forced to watch the brutal killings of her children last month had lobbied a decade ago for the parole of the very suspect now accused in the quadruple slayings, records show.

Fred Harris, a pastor and civil rights activist, had pressed for the release of Gregory Green, who was imprisoned for killing his then-wife and unborn child in 1991, according to documents obtained by The Detroit News from the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Green is now accused of shooting his current wife — Harris’ daughter, Faith Harris-Green — and killing her four children.

The 78-year-old Harris, a popular pastor with the Church of the Risen Christ Ministries International in Detroit, wrote at least two letters supporting Gregory Green, a former congregant and future son-in-law.

“Gregory and I were friends before his mishap and he was incarcerated,” Harris wrote on Aug. 17, 2005. “I feel he has paid for his unfortunate lack of self control and the damage he has caused as much as possible and is sorry. This will not restore the lives that were taken; he will carry that with him for the rest of his life.”

The next year, Harris wrote again in support of Green’s release.

“I’ve noticed a great deal of growth and his understanding has matured quite a bit as well as his processing skills,” Harris wrote. “If he was to be released, he would be welcomed as a part of our church community, and whatever we could do to help him adjust, we would.”

Harris declined comment Tuesday evening when contacted at his home by a Detroit News reporter.

Gregory Green, now 49, was incarcerated for 16 years over the July 14, 1991, attack on former wife, Tonya Green, who was six months pregnant.

The woman was stabbed “several times to the face and chest area” and pronounced dead at Grace Hospital, according to corrections records. Gregory Green called police to the scene and showed detectives where to find the murder weapon, stashed in a refrigerator.

Green pleaded guilty in 1992 to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15-25 years in prison.

Green was then denied parole four times — twice in 2004 and twice in 2006 — before being granted release in 2008, corrections officials said. At least five different parole board members signed off on his rejected attempts; members Enid Livingston and Barbara Sampson are listed on his successful 2008 bid after each played a role in denying Green’s previous requests for parole. Attempts to reach both Sampson and Livingston were unsuccessful on Tuesday.

Parole decisions are handled by three-member panels of the corrections department’s parole board, according to its policy and website. Just two are listed on Green’s files because they cast the same vote, according to officials.

“Decisions can be made by the first two members of a three-member panel, if their votes agree,” Corrections spokeswoman Holly Kramer said. “If their votes are different, then the third panel member casts a vote.”

Two years after Green was released from prison, he married Harris-Green, on Dec. 18, 2010. Harris’ letters do not reveal whether Green knew his daughter before the man’s lengthy imprisonment.

But their relationship was a rocky one, with Harris-Green, 39, seeking divorce in October 2013 and again in August 2016.

A month later, authorities say Green called 911 at 1:15 a.m. Sept. 21 and waited for police in the driveway of his home on the 4400 block of Hipp in Dearborn Heights. Inside the home, investigators discovered Harris-Green in the basement, bound with tape and zip ties.

Prosecutors alleged Green tied up and assaulted his wife before making her watch him fatally shoot her two older children. Green also is suspected of killing their two young daughters with carbon-monoxide poisoning, officials said.

Green has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count each of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, torture, unlawful imprisonment, felonious assault as a felon in possession and felony firearm.Green is due in 20th District Court in Dearborn Heights on Wednesday for a probable cause conference.

His court-appointed attorney has said he planned to file a motion for an insanity defense, mirroring a tactic attempted after Tonya Green’s death.

Green also planned to use the insanity defense to explain why he stabbed his then-wife in 1991, according to documents in his court file. There was no information indicating the results of a mental competency examination ordered by a Wayne County judge.

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SOURCE: The Detroit News
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