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Photographer Is Sentenced for Dropping In on Taylor Wedding

December 14, 1991|ERIC MALNIC | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Sun Valley man who pleaded no contest to a trespassing charge after parachuting uninvited into Elizabeth Taylor's wedding in October was sentenced Friday to two years probation, 80 hours of community service, a $1,000 fine and five days in the Santa Barbara County Jail.

"I didn't expect anything like that," a shaken Scott Harris said later. "I think it's absurd. I'm horrified. I'm frightened. I've never been in jail before."

Harris, a free-lance photographer, said he'd been "offered large sums of money--more than $300,000--by some tabloids, people like that," to parachute down on the determinedly private outdoor ceremony at entertainer Michael Jackson's secluded Santa Ynez Valley ranch while carrying a video camera.

"I was supposed to broadcast the video signal down to a remote (receiving unit) on the ground," he said. "But the recording device failed. No pictures. . . .

"The ceremony was still going on when I landed about 10 meters behind the seated guests," Harris added. "I was tackled by some security guards, handcuffed and turned over to sheriff's deputies. They took me out to the gate, booked me and released me."

Harris, 34, said he entered the no-contest plea to the trespassing charge because "what the heck, I was there. I did it."

While Harris argued that he didn't hurt anyone and didn't even profit from his escapade, the Santa Barbara County district attorney's office said that he had endangered those on the ground.

The justice court judge, Rick Brown, then handed down his sentence, telling Harris it was based on the photographer's attempt--however unsuccessful--to cash in on the wedding by violating the privacy rights of others. Brown could not be reached for further comment Friday.

Harris, who is scheduled to begin serving his jail sentence on Tuesday, said he plans to be back in court Monday--with an attorney--to appeal the sentence.

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