Woman Explains Love for Death Row Prisoner

ByABC News
January 16, 2001, 6:10 PM

Jan. 19, 2001 — -- Dagmar Polzin doesn't care what other people think. What matters most to her is saving the life of the man she loves even if he is a convicted killer on death row she first saw in a Benetton fashion ad in Germany.

Wearing a black dress and still visibly tense after an appearance on television earlier this week, she brushed her blonde-streaked hair to the side and folded her hands in the dressing room she shared with her attorney as she tried to explain her most unusual love affair. So what if she gave up her life in Germany and moved to North Carolina to be near a man she barely knows? Polzin says she loves condemned prisoner Bobby Lee Harris and will do anything to save him from execution.

"I love this man," Polzin told ABCNEWS.com. "If it's the last thing I do, I want to save his life because there's been an injustice."

Polzin was prepared to watch Harris die early this morning, but a judge Wednesday issued a stay of execution. Prosecutors from the state attorney general's office appealed the decision, but the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the stay Thursday and scheduled a Feb. 20 hearing on Harris' case.

Polzin and Harris' lawyers are hoping North Carolina Gov.-elect Mike Easley will spare Harris the death penalty and grant him clemency, sentencing him to life in prison without parole. Easley's office said he will not decide on clemency for Harris until the appeals process is completed.

Harris was convicted for the 1991 stabbing death of his employer at the time, Onslow County fisherman John Redd. Prosecutors say Harris and his co-worker Joe Simpson planned and carried out Redd's slaying during a robbery attempt while they were out on a shrimping boat.

Harris allegedly confessed to stabbing Redd. But his attorneys and Polzin argue that Redd could have survived the attack hospital officials did not give him the blood transfusions he needed soon enough. They also argue that Harris should not be held fully accountable for his actions because he is borderline retarded with an IQ of 75 and had been drinking heavily in the hours leading up to the slaying.