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San Diego man arrested for allegedly killing church deacon

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A man was arrested for a second time for allegedly killing a Rancho Cucamonga church deacon in 1992, authorities said.

Scott Frederic Harrison, 35, of Jamul was arrested and charged three years ago in connection with the murder of Phillip Perry. Prosecutors dropped the case, citing insufficient evidence.

Authorities said Wednesday that they have since uncovered DNA evidence that links Harrison to Perry's murder, and they are confident they can prove him guilty this time around.

"I would not have filed the case if I did not believe I could convict him," Deputy District Attorney Cheryl Kersey said.

Harrison was being held without bail at San Diego County Central Jail. He was charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder that also included special circumstance allegations which make Harrison eligible for the death penalty if convicted.

Detectives said it might be next week before he is brought back to San Bernardino County and arraigned.

Perry, 44, was last seen alive leaving St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Upland on April 13, 1992. He was found dead in the back seat of his car two days later in Tijuana, Mexico.

Harrison is accused of taping Perry's mouth shut and shooting him in the chest as part of a conspiracy masterminded by Harrison's former brother-in-law, who plotted Perry's murder after learning his wife and the deacon were having an affair.

The case remained unsolved until 2001, when Perry's oldest son persuaded homicide detectives to re-open it.

Harrison was first arrested in August 2001 along with Karl Joseph DiTommaso and DiTommaso's step-sister, Elizabeth Minor, both of Rancho Cucamonga. Jurors convicted DiTommaso in July 2002 of orchestrating Perry's murder. He was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison.

Minor pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and agreed to testify against DiTommaso and Harrison.

San Bernardino County sheriff's Sgt. Bobby Dean said Wednesday that Harrison's DNA has since been found on envelopes that held letters sent to Perry's family and church after his disappearance.

Detectives believe the letters, which purported to be from Perry to explain his disappearance, were actually sent by the killers. DiTommaso's fingerprints and DNA were also found on the letters and envelopes.

"This shows Harrison was involved in the conspiracy to murder Phil Perry," Dean said.

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Information from: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

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