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Man sentenced to 25 years to life for fatally stabbing his mother

Christopher Storm Harrison was sentenced to 25 years

Christopher Storm Harrison was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for fatally stabbing his mother at their home on Union Avenue in Center Moriches. Credit: Composite: SCPD; Stringer News Service

There was no doubt Monday in a Riverhead courtroom how a Sayville woman felt about her mentally ill older brother stabbing their mother to death in November 2017.

"I will not let the pathetic killer in the room win," Amathyst Rain Harrison said as her brother, Christopher Storm Harrison, 27, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the death of Joyce Skarka of Center Moriches. "I will live my life to the fullest."

Addressing her brother, she continued, "You heartless, cold, hateful killer. I have animosity in me to fuel me for the rest of my life."

The defendant never looked at his sister and said nothing in court. He was convicted last month of second-degree murder after a jury rejected an insanity defense. Harrison had a long, documented history of bipolar syndrome and schizophrenia. He told doctors afterward that he slit his mother's throat while she ate a sushi lunch because he had become convinced she was going to enslave him after she declined to put canned food away in the pantry, as he asked.

Assistant District Attorney Frank Schroeder did not dispute that Harrison was mentally ill, but argued that he knew what he was doing here.

"Mental illness is not a license to kill," Schroeder said. Harrison moved and hid his mother's body, cleaned up the kitchen and lied to detectives that she had attacked him — all signs that he knew what he had done was wrong, Schroeder said.

In court, Rain Harrison did not mention her brother's mental illness and avoided speaking his name.

She said her mother was her best friend and her soul mate, and that she loved working for her mother's tanning business.

"I am my mother's daughter," she said, and asked Suffolk County Court Judge Timothy Mazzei to impose the maximum sentence of 25 years to life.

Defense attorney Robert Del Col said his client's mental illness was a mitigating factor the judge should consider. "There's really no other explanation" for what happened, he said.

"I don't doubt that his psychiatric condition may have had something to do with this," Mazzei said, but he also said he was convinced that Harrison acted intentionally and knowingly when he killed Skarka.

As Harrison was led from the courtroom, his sister shouted at him, "Shame on you! Shame on you!" Then she left the courtroom and sobbed while friends and family consoled her.

Down the hall as she cried, Del Col said, "I see her point. It's sad, a true tragedy."

But he said there was no motive for Harrison to kill his mother other than acting on his delusional beliefs.

"That's what makes this so senseless," he said.

Schroeder praised Rain Harrison's strength and predicted she will do well in life.

"Rain's going to live her life with courage," Schroeder said. "I'm very proud of her."

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