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Teen accused in alleged THC deal gone bad held without bail on murder charge

QUINCY — The family of a slain Weymouth High School athlete chanted “Long live Nathan” and loudly applauded when a judge on Tuesday ordered an 18-year-old held without bail for taking part in an alleged purchase of THC bars that resulted in the football player’s death last month.

The family of Jaivon Harris of Quincy, accused of the murder of 17-year-old Nathan Paul, countered with “Love you, Jaivon” and, “We know you didn’t do it.”

A woman stood, raised her arms above her head, and made the shape of a heart with her hands. Court officers had to quiet the Quincy district courtroom into silence.

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Harris, a high school junior, is behind bars because of a bungled plan on Feb. 15 to buy honey dew flavored THC bars with fake money, according to prosecutors and police reports.

Harris is charged with murder, armed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and conspiracy. He pleaded not guilty and Quincy District Court. Judge Neil A. Hourihan ordered him held without bail.

Police said the alleged plan also involved at least four juveniles, identified only by initials in court filings. The suspected shooter, also a juvenile, fled to San Juan 12 hours after the killing, according to an application for an arrest warrant.

Court records allege that Paul was the seller and Harris and the juveniles conspired to rip him off by luring him to Quincy’s Germantown neighborhood. No weapon has been found.

Paul, who drove to the neighborhood alone, discovered the fake money, got angry and gave chase. He was allegedly shot when he jumped back into his SUV and drove toward Harris and the suspected shooter, authorities alleged in a State Police affidavit filed in court.

Harris allegedly shouted: “Shoot him!” Two shots were fired, authorities said.

Paul was shot in the upper left leg and was found in the driver’s seat of the SUV. He later died at Boston Medical Center from internal injuries and blood loss, according to court records.

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Speaking with reporters outside the courthouse on Tuesday, defense attorney Francisco Napolitano disparaged the case against Harris, noting that there is no forensic evidence, including no DNA, linking his client to Paul’s death. Moreover, he said, while police did find an ammunition clip for a handgun while searching Harris’ mother’s home, it was not the caliber used to kill Paul.

“They find a clip, a magazine, for a 9 millimeter and the spent shell casings (at the scene) were .40 caliber. What does that have to do with it?” Napolitano said. “This suggests that they’re fishing, that they’re just throwing everything against the wall and hoping that something sticks.”

Allegations that Harris had a gun were not true, Napolitano said. No one ever saw one in his hands and prosecutors only allege that Harris was seen “playing around with it in his waistband, but no gun” was found, he said.

According to State Police, Harris’s mother was licensed to own a firearm but did not currently have one registered to her. During the search of the home, police allegedly recovered both 9mm and .40 caliber ammunition — including .40 caliber ammunition similar to that found at the crime scene.

Paul was a well-known student with a “contagious smile” and “the sweetest soul” at the high school where he was on the football team along with his older brother, according to online tributes.

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“He was a great guy,” one student wrote. “Nothing bad was gonna happen to him of all people. Reminds us that our lives are not guaranteed. May he rest in peace.”

Paul was preparing to attend prom on a double date with a close friend. He was looking forward to college, possibly at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Paul’s mother declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday afternoon. “I’m not going to say anything about my son,” she said.

Following the killing, Paul’s brother told State Police they had been selling marijuana to people they knew during the pandemic and were earning up to $1,000 “every few weeks.” They also were selling THC bars for $20 each, State Police wrote in the affidavit.

“The victim’s brother said he grew nervous about selling marijuana and even warned his brother ‘not to serve people you don’t know,’” State Police wrote.

Weymouth High School football coach T.J. Byrne memorialized Paul in a recent Facebook post.

“In what has become all too common in today’s society, we grieve the loss of another, promising young man. We were fortunate to have Nathan as a part of our team over the past four years,’’ Byrne posted on social media last month. “He was a gentleman and a pleasure to be around these past four years.”

A GoFundMe page set up by a friend of the teenager has received $32,000 as of Tuesday, well over the $20,000 goal.

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“Nathan was a kind soul and never failed to make you smile,” the organizer wrote. “Nathan you were a teammate to me and I am grateful I knew you as a person, you were real, funny and just a great guy.”



Tonya Alanez can be reached at tonya.alanez@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @talanez. John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.