Elderly Delta man convicted in murder attempt after building purchase went sour

What began as a dispute over a building purchase ended with a Delta man’s conviction for attempted murder.

William Harmon faces up to 24 years in prison after a jury found him guilty on May 12 of showing up at the home of Paul and Anna Hershberger armed with loaded guns. Harmon also was convicted of stalking the couple, driving while impaired and illegally having alcohol in his vehicle. The stalking conviction can carry as many as four years in prison.

Harmon is free on bond pending sentencing Aug. 2. Although prison could be ordered, probation or community corrections options are also open to the court.

Paul Hershberger died in an unrelated matter before the case went to trial. The founder of Sharing God’s Abundance ministry and local construction company owner died in 2020, at age 67, in a motorcycle accident near Nucla.

Harmon’s listed attorney could not be immediately reached for comment Wednesday, when the 7th Judicial District Attorney’s Office announced the verdict.

“We respect the jury’s verdict and appreciate the attention that they gave to the trial over eight days,” said Assistant District Attorney Rob Zentner, who with Deputy DA Robert Whiting prosecuted Harmon.

“We find that the convictions that have been entered against Mr. Harmon are very serious and we anticipate requesting a fair and just sentence to be imposed.”

Harmon was arrested on Jan. 9, 2019, after Delta County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to Anna Hershberger’s 911 call, in which she said Harmon showed up at their home to harass them.

According to the original case affidavit, Anna told DCSO Deputy Wade Carney about a business dispute that by then was three years old: Harmon had ordered a building from her husband, who owned a construction company that makes pole buildings and similar structures, but did not say where he wanted it delivered and erected. Paul Hershberger therefor stored the structure at their home. When Harmon called to say he no longer wanted the building, he was declined a refund.

The resulting dispute wound up in civil court, with Hershberger being ordered to pay a partial refund, while Harmon was told to get the building off Hershberger’s property.

According to Anna’s statements as rendered in the affidavit, Harmon had made threats during the case to shoot Paul and said that because of his age, he didn’t mind sitting in jail for the rest of his life. Harmon turns 81 in August.

Anna Hershberger also told Carney that Harmon had followed them around on several occasions, including to church.

As the deputy was on the phone with her, dispatch informed him Harmon had returned to the Hershberger property, then drove off again. Carney and another deputy responded, located Harmon’s truck and pulled it over.

Carney said that during the traffic stop, Harmon said he’d made a deal with Hershberger, which the deputy summarized as: “he was either going to put up my building, or I was going to shoot him.”

Harmon admitted to having a sawed-off shotgun and a .40 caliber handgun in his truck with him; the handgun was found inside of a beer bottle box and loaded with 10 rounds, one of which was chambered. The deputies located several rounds of ammo in the vehicle: 92 shotgun shells and 41 bullets.

Carney arrested Harmon for attempted murder, in the affidavit saying it was because Harmon came to Hershberger’s home, admitted he was looking for the chance to shoot Hershberger, and had weapons with him.

The DA’s Office acknowledged jurors’ work at trial, as well as Carney and Detective Sgt. Tyler Becker’s work in the investigation, with which Delta Police Department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation assisted. The DA also thanked victim advocates Cindy Antillon and Caitlyn Revoir.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter @kathMDP or reach out to her at katharhynnh@montrosepress.com.

Montrose Daily Press | May 26, 2021
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