- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

HOUSTON A jury yesterday morning found Clara Harris guilty of murdering her husband by running over him with her new Mercedes-Benz, and in the afternoon began hearing testimony in the trial's punishment phase.
Two of the jurors sobbed as the judge read the verdict, but Harris, 45, a dentist, stood stoically, showing no immediate emotion as she was convicted of killing her orthodontist husband, David, also 45, after finding him at a hotel with his lover in July.
"I saw his eyes," Harris later testified in the sentencing phase. "I felt so bad. I couldn't help him. He couldn't get away. "
The jury, which deliberated for about eight hours over two days, now must decide whether Harris should be sent to prison for life or be given a much-lighter sentence. The jury can determine the crime was of "sudden passion" and give as little as two to 20 years in prison.
The jury could have convicted Harris on lesser charges, such as manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.
The prosecution used only one witness in the trial, Lindsey Harris, the 17-year-old daughter of the victim, who was in the car when her father was killed. She testified that her stepmother knew what she was doing and had even mentioned that she could kill him and "get away with it."
"She stepped on the accelerator and went straight for him," testified the stepdaughter. "He was really scared, trying to get away from her, but he couldn't."
"She knew what she did and she wasn't sorry," the teenager added.
Prosecutors contended throughout the trial that the mother of young twins deliberately ran down her philandering husband, then gunned her automobile around the parking lot before running over him twice more.
Defense lawyer George Parnham built his entire case around evidence he claimed showed Harris ran over the victim only once and that she was so distraught about her husband's affair, she didn't know what she was doing.
The defendant testified last week and claimed she was only trying to damage the Lincoln Navigator owned by her husband's paramour, Gail Bridges, when she hit her husband.
"Everything seemed like a dream," she said, weeping.
She told jurors: "I was in so much pain, it was a physical pain. Suddenly, I thought about smashing my car against her car and then I picked up speed." She said she remembered seeing "some surprised eyes."
A videotape of the incident made by a private investigator was inconclusive.

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