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Archive for Friday, February 14, 2003

Wife convicted of murder for driving over husband

February 14, 2003

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— A woman who ran down her cheating husband with her Mercedes after catching him with his mistress was convicted of murder Thursday despite her tearful claim that she hit him accidentally, while in a heartsick daze.

Clara Harris, 45, could get a life sentence or a lesser punishment if the jury concludes she acted with "sudden passion." Two jurors wept as the judge read the verdict.

Harris showed no emotion as she listened to the verdict. But she burst into sobs as the penalty phase began with her 17-year-old stepdaughter confiding on the witness stand that she had attempted suicide more than once since her father's death last July. The teenager was a passenger in the Mercedes that day.

Harris, a dentist who shared a practice with her orthodontist husband, insisted David Harris' death in a hotel parking lot was an accident. She said she was in a daze and wanted only to damage the black Lincoln Navigator belonging to her husband's receptionist-turned-lover, Gail Bridges.

"I think I closed my eyes," Harris testified. "After that, I didn't know who was driving. Everything seemed like a dream."

Defense experts said the Mercedes' turning radius and other evidence indicated she hit him only once. Her lawyers also branded Bridges a "homewrecker," while David Harris' parents testified in support of their daughter-in-law and said the couple's marriage was "made in heaven."

But prosecutors said witnesses' accounts, bloodstains on the underside of the car and tire tracks on the body all showed she ran him over at least twice.

The trial will resume today.

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