Texas jury considers punishment after convicting wife of murdering her cheating husband - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Texas jury considers punishment after convicting wife of murdering her cheating husband


HOUSTON (AP) _ On the eve of her wedding anniversary, dentist Clara Harris was told to remove her wedding band so she could be taken into custody after her murder conviction for mowing down her cheating husband.

On Valentine's Day, Harris and her husband David, an orthodontist, would have been married 11 years _ a union the victim's mother had described as ``a marriage made in heaven.''

Jurors found Harris, 45, guilty of murder for running down her 44-year-old husband with her Mercedes Benz. On Friday, the panel was expected to begin deliberating her sentence.

The murder conviction could result in a sentence of five years to life in prison. But if the jury accepts the argument that she acted with ``sudden passion,'' she could receive a lesser sentence. If she receives less than 10 years, she will be eligible for probation.

In the sentencing phase of the trial, which began after the conviction Thursday, defense attorneys asked jurors to give Harris no more than 10 years probation.

Defense attorneys said she acted with ``sudden passion'' because she was stunned to find her husband leaving with his mistress from the same hotel where the Harrises were married.

Prosecutors, however, said Harris acted out of anger and jealousy when she struck her husband July 24, then circled back and drove over his body numerous times. They presented only one witness: David Harris' 17-year-old daughter Lindsey, a passenger in the car that struck her father.

``I only got to spend 16 1/2 years with him and I had so much more planned,'' Lindsey Harris testified. ``It's not fair for someone to take my dad away from me.''

The teenager, who lives in Ohio with her mother and stepfather, told jurors she had planned to attend college in Texas to be closer to her father. Like her dad, she wanted to be an orthodontist.

``Everything was perfect and that's how it was going to be _ then it was ruined,'' she said.

The teenager testified that after her father's death, she retrieved his clothes from a trash can where her stepmother had ordered they be thrown. She said she took her father's belongings into her bedroom to ``feel like he was there with me.''

``I didn't care about anything. I just had no feeling,'' the teenager said.

Her grades have since fallen, she's dropped out of her favorite activities, and she now sees a doctor to talk about her depression, she said.

``I slit my wrists,'' she said.

``Was that on more than one occasion?'' prosecutor Mia Magness asked.

``Yes,'' said the teenager.

Clara Harris began sobbing and prosecutors immediately asked that jurors be removed from the courtroom. As they were ushered out, the dentist cried out: ``I'm sorry Lindsey! I'm sorry baby!''

State District Judge Carol Davies, who has admonished Harris throughout the four-week trial about her emotional responses, told her to compose herself or be removed from the courtroom.

``Don't blow it,'' the judge said.

Defense attorney George Parnham called seven witnesses, including David Harris' father, mother and brother.

``Our motivation stems from the word forgiveness,'' Gerald Harris testified of his support for his daughter-in-law. ``This tragedy was a very strong blow against our family. We feel like a member of our family has erred and we forgive that. We don't feel like Clara intended to kill David.''

If Clara Harris ends up going to jail, Gerald Harris told jurors he and his wife, Mildred, have requested guardianship of the couple's twin 4-year-old boys.

But Mildred Harris testified she wants her daughter-in-law at home with her grandsons.

``Her little boys need her,'' she said. ``She's a good mother and she's a good person.''
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