Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Filed by Man Accused of Killing Wife

By: Eyewitness News, Lanetra Bennett, Julie Montanaro, Angelica Alvarez Email
By: Eyewitness News, Lanetra Bennett, Julie Montanaro, Angelica Alvarez Email

[UPDATE] March 29, 2012 - Tallahassee

A Tallahassee man who was arrested and later cleared in the death of this wife, lost his lawsuit against the city.

Richard Kelly Harte was suing police claiming he should never have been arrested.

He was suing the City of Tallahassee, Police Chief Dennis Jones and Investigator Jeff Mahoney for violating his civil rights. But a federal judge ruled police did have probable cause to arrest him and dismissed the suit.

The attorney representing the city says the dismissal was a relief for Mahoney and the force.

"Investigator Mahoney had nine independent witnesses who all testified consistently, that Mrs. Harte the victim, had confided in them that Mr. Harte had abused her," said Attorney Michael Spellman.

No one has since been arrested for the murder of Barbara Harte.


UPDATED 3.28.2012 by Julie Montanaro

A Tallahassee man who was arrested - and later cleared - in the death of his wife lost his lawsuit against the city today.

Richard Kelley Harte sued police claiming he should never have been arrested in the death of his wife Barbara.

She was found dead in the bathtub back in 2006.

Harte sued the city for violating his civil rights and sought damages for the subsequent loss of his copy business.

A federal judge ruled today that Tallahassee Police did have probable cause to arrest him and dismissed the suit.

Michael Spellman represented the city in the lawsuit.

Harte's attorney, David Moye, sent this statement:

"We certainly respect Judge Hinkle and respect the fact he is duty-bound to apply the law to the facts as presented. The issue before the court was simply what material facts, regardless of whether true or false, did TPD personnel have available for consideration when the decision was made to go to Kelley Harte’s home and arrest him."

"It is our belief many of the material facts of which TPD was aware, and which TPD left out of the affidavit it provided to the Judge in support of its request for an arrest warrant, reflected there was no probable cause to arrest Kelley Harte."

"The Harte family, although very disappointed, would like to express their gratitude and thanks to those family members and close friends in the Tallahassee area who have supported them throughout this difficult period and remain committed to rebuilding their family."
[UPDATE] Tallahassee, Florida -March 28, 2012 by Julie Montanaro

A U.S. district judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Tallahassee man accused of killing his wife.

Richard Kelley Harte sued the Tallahassee Police Department for false arrest in connection with the death of his wife, Barbara.

The civil suit was scheduled to go to trial in May of this year.

This morning, Judge Robert Hinkle granted the City of Tallahassee's request for summary judgment, saying police did have probable cause to arrest Harte at the time.

Criminal charges against Harte were dropped soon after his arrest in March 2007.

We are attempting to contact attorneys for both sides.


Tallahassee, Florida - July 18, 2011 [UPDATE]

A Tallahassee man is suing the Tallahassee Police Department and the City of Tallahassee.

His attorney says Richard Kelley Harte shouldn't have been arrested for killing his wife four years ago.

An attorney has filed a lawsuit against the City of Tallahassee, Chief Dennis Jones, and Jeff Mahoney of the Tallahassee Police Department.

He says Richard Kelley Harte should not have been arrested for the death of Harte's wife.

Back on November 19, 2006, Harte's wife, Barbara, wad found dead next to their bathtub.

In March 2007, Harte was charged with drowning her. The charges were dropped six weeks later... but Harte's attorney says his client never would have been arrested if investigator Mahoney didn't leave out relevant information.

Harte's Attorney David Moye says, "For example, one of the witnesses stated that less than three months prior to her death, Mrs. Harte was observed in her jacuzzi bathtub and she was unconscious under water. Actually the words used, she was out of it. The person thought she was dead. Fortunately that was not the case."

The complaint says the investigator also misrepresented information when he wrote in the report that "the medical examiner advised the bruising on the victim was consistent with her having been in a recent struggle."

Moye says the autopsy in no way references a struggle with anyone.

Lewis Shelley Assistant to Attorney says, "I'm sure that once all the facts are known in this case and we've reviewed the case, it will be determined that the investigator's representation of what were the critical and crucial facts were all included."

Tallahassee, Florida - July 18, 2011 -

A man once charged with the murder of his wife is now suing the lead investigator and the City of Tallahassee.

Richard Kelley Harte was arrested in March 2007 and the charges were later dropped. Richard Kelley Hart was accused of drowning his wife.

Eyewitness News got a copy of the complaint that was filed with the Leon County Clerk's Office. The suit is against the City, Tallahassee Police Chief Dennis Jones and Investigator Mahoney.

Richard Kelley Harte was accused of drowning his wife, Barbie, in their bathtub. He was held without bond back in 2007 and spent six weeks in jail.

Harte's attorney called the case "flimsy and stale" and his brother vowed Harte would be cleared. Harte was cleared. The Tallahassee Police Department later dropped the charges against Harte.

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  • by anonymous on Jun 5, 2012 at 08:09 AM
    Barbie Jensen Harte was one of my best friends in high school. I would just like to know the truth about her death. :(
  • by Tally on Mar 29, 2012 at 07:35 AM
    This man is so guilty and he got away with murder thanks to Willie Meggs! The fact that he would try to sue over this was unbelievable! He should be in prison for the rest of his life.
  • by William H Location: Tallahassee on Mar 29, 2012 at 05:32 AM
    History of beating his wife. Unexplained and fresh bruises on various spots of her head when she was "found" drowned in the bathtub. Husband only one around. Hmmm...
  • by Family Location: Florida on Mar 28, 2012 at 04:14 PM
    If people knew the truth on how the Police dept. handled this they would be AMAZED! This is a good ol boys network and the police department and this judge can go to hell for what they have done. I really thought the judg would see through this but he is just as guilty and who knows how much he is in someone's pocket. We need to really look at this judges record and who he is in bed with!
    • reply
      by Leagle Beagle on Mar 29, 2012 at 02:49 AM in reply to Family
      Judge Hinkle in bed with someone? Thats a good one. The only thing he cares about is the rule of law. He is one of the most neutral judges I have ever seen. . As a federal judge he is appointed for life and does not need to impress or seek favor from anyone.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 28, 2012 at 02:28 PM
    It's sad that the Tallahassee Police Department has gotten away with another thing that has ruined a family in the city that they are supposed to protect. They are only interested in their own benefit and personal advancement with no concern to what it may cost to another.
  • by None on Mar 28, 2012 at 12:50 PM
    So Judge Hinkle would have prosecuted it? I wonder why Willie didn't. Maybe it had something to do with Hartes money?
    • reply
      by Dee on Mar 28, 2012 at 06:29 PM in reply to None
      don't forget "influence"
    • reply
      by Leagle Beagle on Mar 29, 2012 at 02:53 AM in reply to None
      Thats not what the ruling says. It says the police had probable cause to arrest. There is a significant difference in the standard the police need to arrest and what is needed to convict. I dont know the facts of this case but in most cases like this a judge approves an arrest warrant before the police make an arrest, so at least one other judge thought there was enough evidence to arrest.
    • reply
      by Dee on Mar 29, 2012 at 06:00 AM in reply to None
      and "connections"
  • by Grace on Mar 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM
    what a travesty of justice
  • by Steve Location: Marietta, Georgia on Jul 19, 2011 at 05:26 PM
    [Yes fat shadow, I am still a Florida native, and resident...you must be with TPD] Tired of these punks giving legal opinion, and not practicing law enforcement! That is their craft, they are not attorneys! I hope he gets like $2,000,000.00 from these attorney wannabeez, that cannot enforce the law, but can give you legal opinion! What a bunch of lawyers, I'm sorry...piles!
  • by Anonymous on Jul 19, 2011 at 11:15 AM
    I have known Jeff for many years and can tell you he is an asset to our community. If he made a mistake, then he is human and probably very sorry. I do not typically side with law enforcement but i will side with Jeff by stating that he is a fine example of a man. Mr. Harte .. my apologies to you in this matter and condolences for your loss. Please Accept this as an outlaws respect for a decent man. Robby Clark
    • reply
      by Melanie Two Door on Jul 19, 2011 at 06:20 PM in reply to
      Robby Clark for mayor!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Mar 28, 2012 at 06:46 PM in reply to Melanie Two Door
        Um no thank you....sorry doesn't bring back ANYTHING or exclude the fact that he did a poor poor job handling this case that not only affected Mr. Harte in ways he will never understand but his entire family. Unbelievable.
        • reply
          by Angry Pirate on Mar 29, 2012 at 03:03 AM in reply to Anonymous
          Hello, NINE witnesses told the police the same thing and the officer iis not allowed to make an arrest? Heck, look at the Martin case, there arent near that many witnesses and people are calling the failure to arrest that guy a cover up etc. For some people the police can never be right. They either rush to judgment and arrest too soon or they take too long investigating the facts and are accused of covering up crimes. Im not a cop, but it seems they cant win.
  • by Jim Location: Tallahassee on Jul 19, 2011 at 08:32 AM
    Geez, I hope Mr. Harte's attorney speaks better in front of a jury than he does to the news reporter. He's either too nervous or doesn't know his own case!
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