It’s been more than four years since 10-year-old Hassan Harclerode Jr. has seen his father outside prison walls.
In 2008, his father was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to maintaining a place to distribute a controlled substance.
The “place” was a house on Atherton Street, just off Montpelier Avenue in Macon, where Bibb County deputy Joseph Whitehead was shot to death while serving a no-knock warrant March 23, 2006.
Although Hassan Harclerode has a projected release date of Sept. 26 on the drug charge, it’s unlikely that he’ll get to go home then. He’s one of four men charged with Whitehead’s death.
When he leaves Butner Federal Correctional Complex in eastern North Carolina, Harclerode will be taken straight to the Bibb County jail, said Kayanna Banks, Hassan Jr.’s mother.
Banks said she looks forward to the day when she and her children can move forward with their lives, but they can’t as long as the murder case against Harclerode is pending.
Harclerode, she says, wasn’t at the house when Whitehead was shot and killed. He had left to pick up his children and go home, to another house, about 6 p.m. Banks had been working an overnight shift.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Antron Fair and Damon Jolly, the defendants whose cases have drawn the most attention in the slaying. Prosecutors aren’t seeking capital punishment against Harclerode or Thomas Porter, who have received far less publicity in recent years. They are charged with murder in the case, prosecutors have said, because Whitehead was killed during the commission of drug-related felonies they were involved in.
Banks is looking for answers in the case. For one, she wants to know why it’s taking so long for Fair and Jolly to be tried. Prosecutors have said Fair and Jolly will go to trial before Harclerode and Porter.
“If this trial takes nine years, he’ll be sitting there,” she said of Harclerode.
District Attorney Greg Winters said the final order in which defendants will go to trial hasn’t been determined.
The cases against each of the four men, he said, involve “unique issues.”
Hearings are scheduled for May 7 and May 11 to determine whether the cases against Fair and Jolly will be sent to the state Supreme Court for a third pretrial review. Some of the pretrial issues affecting Fair and Jolly also affect Porter and Harclerode, Winters said.
Phone messages left for Harclerode’s lawyer were not returned.
Banks said she had been friends with Fair, Jolly and Porter before Whitehead’s death, She considers the three as godfathers to her son with Harclerode as well as her younger son, Xaylon Banks, whom Harclerode is raising as his own.
Porter, who also was indicted in federal court and pleaded guilty to failing to report drug dealing at the Atherton Street house, was granted a $30,000 bond with electronic monitoring conditions in May 2010 after he completed his federal sentence, his attorney, Franklin J. Hogue, said.
He was released in June 2010 and is being monitored. He’s only allowed to go to work, to go home and attend church on Sunday mornings, Hogue said.
Fair and Jolly are being held at the Bibb County jail without bond.
In prison, Harclerode still is an active parent in the lives of both of Banks’ children.
He exchanges e-mails with the children and calls them on the phone when he can.
“We talk to him four or five times a week,” Banks said.
Most inmates are allowed to write electronic messages that are reviewed by prison staff before they’re sent out via e-mail, said Chris Burke, a Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman.
There have been instances in which Banks has told the children to clean up their room, for example, and they didn’t. But when Banks has taken the children for a visit, she’s seen a change in their behavior.
“If (Harclerode) says so, they do it,” she said. “He is raising them from jail. They listen to him.
“They respect him.”
Harclerode also tries to guide the children toward a better life.
“He’s told them flat out that he’s made mistakes,” she said.
Banks says she will be organizing a “respectful” rally to give people an opportunity to voice concerns about youth violence.
“If you’re always quiet, you will never be heard,” she said.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.