Randy Edwin Harr
GREENEVILLE — A Kingsport man who shot his wife’s ex-husband to death in the Stanley Valley community in 2012 and then set the victim’s home on fire was sentenced Monday to 29 years in prison with no chance for parole.
Randy Edwin Harr, 51, who lived in Kingsport at the time of the killing, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in Greene County Criminal Court.
As part of the plea agreement, Harr must serve 100 percent of the 29-year sentence.
Harr was charged in the March 20, 2012 shooting death of 36-year-old Christopher Varalli, who resided on George Allen Road in the Stanley Valley community.
Harr’s guilty plea was heard Monday in Greeneville because that’s where Judge John Dugger, who serves four counties, is holding court this month.
Harr was originally indicted on charges including first-degree murder, aggravated burglary, aggravated arson, and first-degree felony murder.
Attorney General Berkeley Bell told the Times-News Monday that the murder charge was reduced to second-degree and the additional charges dismissed as part of plea negotiations.
“One of the problems we were having was establishing motive,” Bell said. “We think we had something to do with the (ex-wife’s) son, but we weren’t sure. But, there were several things that linked (Harr) to the scene.”
Bell added, “There was his hair found in the victim’s grasp. There was the weapon, which was recovered. And he worked at a fireworks store, and we linked him to paper found at the scene from the incendiary fireworks device which was used to set the victim’s home on fire.”
Varalli was found dead by firemen the afternoon of March 20 after a mail carrier noticed smoke coming from Varalli’s mobile home at 478 George Allen Road.
An autopsy indicated Varalli died from gunshot wounds to the abdomen as well as a toxic concentration of cyanide, which was caused by the fire. It was the mail carrier who put out the fire and preserved evidence, including hair found in Varalli’s hand which he apparently tore out of Harr’s head during an altercation.
Randy Harr was married to Varelli’s ex-wife, Lisa Harr.
At the time of his death, Varalli’s household consisted of his wife, Joan Clawson, a middle school age daughter he shares with Lisa Harr, and a 16-year-old stepson who is Lisa Harr’s son, but lived with Varalli. That stepson is no blood relation to Randy Harr.
Clawson told the Times-News shortly after the murder that Varalli’s stepson moved in with the Varallis in September of 2011 at Lisa Harr’s request because of discipline problems. Clawson said Varalli felt like he was the only person who could help his stepson.
The night before Varalli’s murder, Hawkins County deputies were called to the residence on a complaint of the boy running away from home. The morning of March 20 prior to the shooting, police returned to the residence because the boy was allegedly unruly and had to be physically restrained by Varalli.
Clawson said the dispute was over Varalli taking away the boy’s cell phone as a disciplinary measure. The boy was arrested that morning and was being held at the regional juvenile detention center in Johnson City at the time of the murder.
Clawson told the Times-News Varalli had a heated telephone discussion with Lisa Harr after the boy’s arrest. During that telephone conversation, Varalli threatened to report Lisa Harr for Social Security fraud because she was (allegedly) claiming benefits for the son who was living with Varalli, Clawson said.
Lisa Harr, 41, also of Kingsport, remains charged with intent to obstruct or hinder an officer from apprehending another person and tampering with evidence.
She is scheduled for trial Feb. 25, although Bell said Harr eventually cooperated in Randy Harr’s murder investigation and will receive a plea agreement.
James Anthony Hall, 52, who was also accused of helping cover up the murder, is scheduled for trial Feb. 19. He too is charged with intent to obstruct or hinder an officer from apprehending another person and tampering with evidence.