Could Varner Harris Face Murder Charges?

February 4, 2013 Updated Feb 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon


Could Varner Harris Face Murder Charges?

February 4, 2013 Updated Feb 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - The family of Officer Patty Parete prepares to lay her to rest.

Although the shooter who left her paralyzed has already been sentenced, Parete's death could spark new charges.

Legal experts say homicide charges are possible against the man who shot Buffalo Police Office Patty Parete back in December of 2006.

Varner Harris Jr. Plead guilty to two counts of attempted murder for the shooting that injured Parete and her partner, Officer Carl Andolina.

Parete passed away in the early horus of Saturday morning.

The shooting left Parete paralyzed. Those who knew her tell Eyewitness News these last few years have been a struggle.

Harris is now serving life in prison for the double shooting, and in this case, double jeopardy would not apply.

Legal expert Barry Covert explains, "The legislature made a specific exception for instances when someone is found guilty of an assault or assault related charge, but after the conviction, the victim in that case passed away -- then that's the exception and they could face homicide charges."

However, there is still a lot to consider. Another factor -- would Parete's family and former colleagues want homicide charges brought up?

Cover says if this went to a murder trial, Parete's loved ones would have to "relive this - and that is a very difficult situation. So unless there's a reward here, like giving someone life in jail when they didn't receive life in jail -- there's really no reason to do that. In this case with 30-life, knowing that he's not going to get out --that's a pretty strong likelihood."

Harris is already serving a sentence of 30 years to life in prison.

In order for potential charges to stick, her death would have to be directly related to the shooting or complications from her injuries.

At this time, an official cause of death has not been announced.