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15 years later, trial begins for man charged in step-daughter's kidnapping and murder

Published: Oct. 6, 2008 at 11:01 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 21, 2008 at 8:14 PM EDT
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By Lindsay Housaman - bio | email

DILLON, SC (WMBF) - The trial began for Sam Harmon who is charged with the kidnapping and murder of his step-daughter, 10-year-old Shakeima Cabbagestalk.

The 10-year-old has been missing for 15 years and her body has never been found, according to investigators.

The State began their opening arguments saying Sam Harmon was the last person Shakeima Cabbagestalk was seen with.  This, however, was unusual because there is no forensic evidence or cause of death because the girl has never been found.

The State did tell the jury they will hear from a number of witnesses including the girl's uncle, who said Harmon had talked to him about ways to dispose of a body weeks within the Cabbagestalk's disappearance.

A year earlier, Harmon had been accused by the juvenile of inappropriately touching her. The Department of Social Services did investigate the allegations, but Harmon was never charged because of inconsistent statements made by the 10-year-old.

The State said these allegations go towards Harmon's motive in this case, also mentioning the fact the girl has never been seen or heard from for 15 years is some of its best evidence.

The defense then gave its opening arguments stating Harmon denies ever committing this crime and has maintained his innocence for the last 15 years.

The first witness to take the stand was the victim's grandmother, Clara Cabbagestalk, giving a testimony about the last time she saw her granddaughter. Cabbagestalk said Shakeima was in the yard and then was gone.

Cabbagestalk said her daughter, Shirley Harmon, contacted her the next day wondering if Shakeima had spent the night with her. When Cabbagestalk said no it was at that point they realized the girl was missing.

Cabbagestalk also talked about that day and her conversation with Sam Harmon. She said she asked Harmon where Shakeima was and that he replied, 'I ain't hurt Shakeima. I love her just like Shirley do.' Clara Cabbagestalk said that statement never answered her question.

The mother, Shirley Harmon, took the stand and was the last witness for the first day of the trial.

The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday with more witness testimony.

Background information on this case:

Police say July 22, 1993, Shakeima Cabbagestalk went missing. According to reports, the 10-year-old girl and her brother went with Sam Harmon to the Turning Point Grocery store in the neighborhood where they lived.

Police say witnesses said Cabbagestalk was last seen leaving with Harmon, while Harmon says he left both her and her brother at the store. Police say Cabbagestalk's mother reported her missing the next day.

From there, police searched wooded areas around the girl's home and even searched by helicopter. Police say the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division began assisting in the investigation on July 25, 1993.

Dillon Police Chief Joe Rogers said in Nov. 2004, there were still no answers in the disappearance of Shakeima Cabbagestalk, so investigators and SLED revisited the case. Police say through investigation, Sam Harmon was arrested in Aug. 2005 abd charged with kidnapping and murder.

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