Jeff Harriman was removed from life-support Tuesday afternoon and died, ending his family's quest to have the organs of the assault victim made available for donation.
Harriman, a transient, had been on life-support at the Nebraska Medical Center since being brutally beaten Friday afternoon in Council Bluffs.
Harriman's family wanted the organs harvested for transplant, but the Iowa medical examiner needed a complete autopsy to prosecute the suspects for murder.
Two other homeless men, Charles Armstrong and Mark Foster, were arrested. They have court appearances set for Wednesday morning.
Harriman’s family met Tuesday morning with the man who will be leading the case, Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber.
"It was a good meeting. The family understood my job is obviously to make sure that I bring the killers to justice and I explained to them that I need a doctor to say they examined the body and they were able to rule out all the other causes of death. The cause of death in this case is blunt force trauma, therefore it is a homicide."
"He laid there too long and suffered too long and it was time to let him go,” said Harriman’s mother, Ellie DeBell.
At 2:30 p.m., she made the decision to let her son die so that the case against his alleged killers could live. "They need to be locked up like animals because that's what they are."
Armstrong and Foster will stand trial for murder. Both men have a past. A woman says one of the men charged in Harriman's death did the same thing to her brother right across the street from where the Harriman family lives.
When Norine Strauser first heard Jeff Harriman's story, she immediately thought of her brother. "My brother didn't get justice. I'm going to cry. What that family is going through because I've been there."
Strauser says in April, Foster attacked her homeless brother leaving him in a coma. The attack was so brutal, he now functions at the level of an 8-year-old. Strauser says she's joining the fight for justice for Jeff Harriman and has a message for his mother.
"My heart goes out to that mother. I am a mother and I don't want that to ever happen to me and as a sister, it was hard."
Foster was charged for the assault of Strauser's brother, but the case was dismissed because the victim did not want to prosecute. He was worried that in the end, Foster would come after him so he went into hiding. Foster was released from jail on July 1st.
The Harriman family released the following statement:
“We wished we could have donated his organs to save other lives, but we also know it’s important to prosecute the monsters who did this to him. We hope Iowa will pass a law similar to the one in Nebraska that could allow for an autopsy and organ donation. When they do, we hope they’ll call it Jeff’s Law.”