Former Owego car dealer Calvin Harris will not go before a jury in his fourth murder trial in the disappearance of his wife 14 and a half years ago.

Harris' request to waive a jury trial in favor of a bench trial has been granted by Judge Richard Mott in Schoharie County.

The defense says Harris had wanted a bench trial in previous proceedings but it was decided a pool of impartial jurors was a better option.

Harris is accused of killing his wife, Michele, who was last seen September 11, 2001 after she had left work to return home to the Town of Spencer estate she still shared with her estranged husband and their four children.

While Cal Harris has stood three trials for his wife's murder, her body has never been found and no murder weapon recovered.

The last trial in Schoharie County ended in a hung jury while Harris was convicted in two previous trials with those convictions overturned on appeal.

In the latest development, on the day jury selection was supposed to begin for the fourth trial, Judge Richard Mott alone will decide Harris' fate, warning the wealthy businessman the verdict, this time, will be final.

Also in discussions behind closed doors in Schoharie County Court, the defense and the prosecution debated what Harris' lawyer said was new evidence turned up by a forensic archaeologist at a burn pit at a home in Lockwood owned by Stacy Stewart, to whom the defense points as a more probable suspect in Michele's disappearance.

The bench trial will start at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, March 31.