Violent fight over cocaine led to ex-Playboy model’s strangulation death

A man accused of fatally strangling a former Playboy model told police they had a violent fight over cocaine, according to a statement read Friday in a Philadelphia courtroom.

Jonathan Harris, 30, said he went to the apartment of Christina Carlin-Kraft, 36, in an affluent Philadelphia suburb to sell her cocaine, but she refused to pay and an altercation ensued. The upscale suburb of Ardmore is located just west of the city.

“I panicked and was scared. I didn’t know what to do,” Harris said in the statement. “I knew I was going to be in trouble.”

The statement was read in court by Montgomery County Detective Todd Richard, who interviewed Harris while he was in custody, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported .

Jonathan Wesley Harris, right, was arrested Aug. 29, 2018, in Pittsburgh in the strangulation death a week earlier of former Playboy playmate Christina Carlin-Kraft.

Jonathan Wesley Harris, right, was arrested Aug. 29, 2018, in Pittsburgh in the strangulation death a week earlier of former Playboy playmate Christina Carlin-Kraft. (Facebook/Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office)

Harris was arrested Aug. 29 in Pittsburgh as he was attempting to leave Pennsylvania, authorities have said. He is charged with murder, robbery, theft and other related crimes in the Aug. 22 death of Carlin-Kraft.

According to the warrant filed in Harris’ arrest, the two met in downtown Philadelphia just hours before her death.

There was no evidence they previously knew each other.

Carlin-Kraft’s beaten body was found in her bloodstained apartment bedroom by police who had been called to check on her.

Harris looked straight ahead and didn’t reply while reporters peppered him with questions as he entered and left court Friday.

This combination of undated photos shows Jonathan Wesley Harris, of Johnstown, Pa. Harris is accused of strangling Christina Carlin-Kraft in one of Philadelphia's affluent suburbs. He arrived for a preliminary hearing on murder charges, Oct. 5, 2018 in Ardmore, Pa.

This combination of undated photos shows Jonathan Wesley Harris, of Johnstown, Pa. Harris is accused of strangling Christina Carlin-Kraft in one of Philadelphia’s affluent suburbs. He arrived for a preliminary hearing on murder charges, Oct. 5, 2018 in Ardmore, Pa. (Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office via Associated Press)

According to the statement read in court, Harris said he agreed to accompany Carlin-Kraft to her apartment to sell her an ounce of cocaine for $1,200. After the two drank several bottles of wine and had consensual sex, he said, Carlin-Kraft refused to pay for the drugs and hid them.

He described a violent struggle in which Carlin-Kraft hit him with a glass bottle and he slapped her, repeatedly punched her in the face to stop her from screaming and tied her up when she tried to flee.

He gave her a phone when she asked to call her dad, he said, but he started to choke her when she tried to call 911, after slapping the phone out of her hands.

When she stopped screaming he fled, he said, taking some clothing and the cocaine and jumping over a balcony. He told police he thought she was alive.

Harris’ attorney Charles Peruto Jr. said he won’t comment on the charges.

“It really leaves a bad taste in my mouth to watch lawyers give press conferences before a trial,” Peruto said in a phone interview. “It shows your hand, and it’s not proper to give evidence before it’s heard in court.”

Friends and family of Carlin-Kraft, whose modeling profile lists photo shoots for Vanity Fair, Victoria’s Secret, Playboy and Maxim, were emotional walking into the hearing Friday.

“She was a great girl, known her for 15 years,” family friend Mark D’Ambrosio told Philadelphia’s KYW-TV. “It’s just horrible.”

District Judge Michael Quinn held Harris on all charges and scheduled an arraignment for Nov. 28.

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