Jury convicts Overland Park pastor of murdering his wife

Tanisha Harris, left, and Robert Harris were both leaders at a nondenominational church in Kansas City, Mo., when Robert killed Tanisha in 2018. Images via Facebook and courtesy Johnson County Sheriff's Office.

A leader of a Kansas City, Mo., church has been convicted by a Johnson County jury of killing his wife, an associate pastor at the same church, in 2018.

Driving the news: Robert Lee Harris of Overland Park, was found guilty Friday of first degree premeditated murder of Tanisha Harris, and will be sentenced Nov. 3 at 1:30 p.m.

Back story: Harris was arrested at his apartment in the 8000 block of Perry Street on January 8, 2018.

  • Police first arrived in response to a call about a domestic disturbance but found Harris alone. They returned later after Harris reported his wife as missing and eventually confessed to killing his wife.
  • Law enforcement officers found Tanisha’s body in an area near Raymore, Mo.

What else: Harris and his wife were leaders at the Repairers Kansas City Church. A church with that name and a Blue Ridge Boulevard address was listed online as “temporarily closed.”

What happened at trial: No motive was suggested early on, but during the trial, jurors heard testimony from Steven Nave, who prosecutors said was romantically involved with Robert Harris.

  • According to a court document asking that Nave’s preliminary hearing testimony be admitted at trial, Harris arrived at Nave’s home about an hour after the police first came to his house. Harris appeared sweaty, according to the prosecutors’ account of his testimony.
  • Tanisha’s car was abandoned in a parking lot very close to Nave’s apartment, and “it is clear the defendant went to Mr. Nave immediately after dumping the car,” the document said.
  • The document goes on to say that Harris did not immediately mention to Nave that Tanisha was missing.
  • “Steven Nave establishes motive and a timeline for the afternoon of the murder,” said the motion, which as submitted by Assistant District Attorney Megan Ahsens. Ahsens and Assistant DA Daniel Obermeier prosecuted the case.
  • They had asked the court to allow Nave’s preliminary hearing testimony because he could not be found and was, according to an investigator, trying to avoid being served with the subpoena.
  • A spokesperson for District Attorney Steve Howe’s office said Nave did testify at the trial.

Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist who reports frequently for the Post and other Kansas City area publications. You can reach her at roxieham@gmail.com