Office of the District Attorney
J. Kirk Andrus, District Attorney
On March 27, 2023, in Siskiyou County Superior Court, Kevin “Wes” Harker, 42, of San Jose, was sentenced to life in prison for a series of remarkably violent domestic assaults over an extended relationship with the victim. Harker had been convicted of 19 felony charges by a Siskiyou County Jury on January 27, 2023, after a trial lasting several weeks.
In early 2021 a case came to the attention of the Siskiyou County District Attorney in which Harker had assaulted and terrorized his girlfriend and the mother of his young daughter the month before. Their relationship was over 2 years old, and a baby had been born to them in November 2020. After the baby’s birth, the child was treated at an NICU in Southern Oregon for medical concerns. The victim was upset because Harker would not let her use his vehicle to visit the child, so she obtained a ride and later slept on a bench outside the hospital after the visit before calling Siskiyou County Behavioral Health for a ride back the next morning. That morning Harker appeared in his vehicle at the medical facility and asked who would drive her back to Yreka. He warned that it had better not be a male. The victim called the police and Harker left. She was picked up by a male Behavioral Health worker and driven back to Yreka. She stayed with a friend in Yreka that night.
Later that evening, Harker showed up at her friend’s home. He threatened her with a firearm and tried to enter through a window. Later that night the victim awoke with Harker in the room where she was sleeping. He forced her to leave her friend’s home and go to his motel room. The next day, driving on Hwy 96, Harker began to aggressively question the victim about the person who had driven her from Southern Oregon. Upon learning that the driver was a male, Harker began to beat the victim repeatedly in the head until the victim climbed into the back seat. Harker then pulled out a knife, called her names, threatened that she would not see her daughter again, and tried several times to stab her from the driver’s seat. During the effort the vehicle slowed to 5-10 miles per hour. The victim opened the rear door to escape, and Harker accelerated suddenly, dragging the victim. She began screaming that she would fall. Harker slammed on the gas, causing the vehicle to speed forward. The victim lost her grip and fell to the pavement. The back tires ran over her leg and arm. With a dislocated shoulder and a bone protruding from a broken leg, the victim could not move. Harker ordered her back into the vehicle, while berating her. He eventually placed her in the back seat, striking her several times with his fist.
Harker then went to a residence nearby and obtained a shovel. He told the victim that it was for her grave. He then stopped at a bridge on Hwy 96 and told her that he would throw her off except that she would probably survive. He then stopped at the next bridge and noted a house nearby. He told her that he would throw her off except that she would be able to obtain help if she survived. At the third bridge Harker informed the victim that he had decided to light the vehicle on fire and burn her to death. Throughout this period the victim fully expected to never see her daughter again. She pled with Harker to just shoot her and put an end to the torture. Soon they arrived in Yreka and the victim watched from the back seat as Harker tried to convince a friend to help bury her. The friend would not assist Harker, so Harker left the victim in the back of the vehicle in the motel parking lot for an extended period. The victim was shaking, crying, and in shock from the pain and injury. Harker refused to take her to the hospital.
Finally, the victim convinced Harker to take her to the hospital by promising that she would make up a story to explain the injuries just as she had done many times before. Harker was reluctant but the victim continued to beg for medical care, and they arrived at Fairchild Medical Center at almost 2:00 am. Harker left the victim and drove away. The victim was in the hospital for almost a week with a shattered lower leg bone that required a metal rod, metal plates and screws to repair. She also had a dislocated shoulder and a broken hand. She told police that Harker had assaulted her over 100 times during their relationship and used a weapon in approximately 20 of those assaults. He had stabbed her, pistol-whipped her, and beaten her with a metal rod and a baseball bat. He had scars from prior assaults and had been to the hospital on several occasions. She later testified at trial that he had fired his handgun at her as well.
After reviewing this report, District Attorney Kirk Andrus obtained medical records going back many months. He charged Harker with 9 felonies for the events in December 2020, including torture and mayhem. Harker was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon and felony domestic violence in October 2019, assault with a deadly weapon and torture in June 2019, assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence in May 2019, assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence in April 2019, and felony domestic violence in January 2019 and December 2018.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Melissa Whetstine was assigned to the case around the time that Harker was arrested. The jury trial on these charges was held in January 2023. At trial a former victim of Harker’s testified to his previous abuse. She was obviously terrified on the stand. Harker had been convicted of violating court orders protecting her on 5 occasions and of felony stalking. Additionally, Harker was convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence against yet another victim in 2017.
On January 27, 2023, a Siskiyou County Jury found Harker guilty of 19 felony offenses. The jury found that Harker had inflicted great bodily injury on the victim during 8 of those charges and had used a deadly weapon during 10. Harker also admitted suffering six prior felony convictions for drug dealing, weapon possession and stalking.
On March 27, 2023, Harker was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Joanne Bicego to 26 years and 8 months in prison followed by two consecutive terms of 7 years to life in prison. He will serve the 26 years and 8 months before beginning his life terms.
District Attorney Kirk Andrus commended SDDA Whetstine for her outstanding work litigating the case, Officer Aaron Smith of the Yreka Police Department for his truly outstanding investigation, and the victim for her remarkable courage.
“When Harker finally injured the victim enough that she was willing to cooperate with us it was shocking how much violence she had suffered in such a few short years—and how well the damage was documented in medical records. Domestic violence is unfortunately not uncommon, but when we see a case like this one, we know that our duty is to see that someone like Harker is put away for as long as possible.”
Mr. Andrus reminded the public that no amount of domestic violence should be tolerated or unreported. “We are very fortunate that this victim did not lose her life. We are committed to ensuring safety for as many victims as we can who suffer in such a relationship.”