Parricide - Jealousy
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder:
July 24, 2002
Date of arrest:
Date of birth: 1968
David Lynn Harris, 44 (her husband)
Method of murder: Repeatedly
running over with a Mercedes-Benz
Location: Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA
to 20 years in prison on February 14, 2003
Clara Harris: Few smiles were
brighter than those of Clara and David Harris.
Both dentists, they shared a thriving practice and a
seemingly perfect marriage.
But that changed
in July of 2003, when Clara began to suspect her husband was having an
affair with his secretary. Intent on catching them in the act, Clara
hired a private detective to tail the couple around town.
A few days later,
the detective called Clara to tell her that he had followed David and
his secretary to a hotel rendezvous - the same hotel that Clara and
David had been married in. Enraged over the news, Clara grabbed her
stepdaughter and drove to the hotel to confront David. When Clara saw
him exit the building, she gunned her Mercedes and ran over him -
At her trial,
Clara's attorneys said she had been pushed to the limit by her
difficult-to-please husband. According to the defense, Clara had quit
her practice, hired a personal trainer and undergone plastic surgery
in an effort to make David happy.
But the jury
showed her little sympathy, especially after watching a videotape of
the vehicular homicide that had been taped by, ironically, the
detective Clara had hired to tail David.
Convicted of 2nd degree murder, she's currently serving
a 20-year sentence.
Murder of David Lynn Harris
David Lynn Harris was an orthodontist who
owned a chain of orthodontist offices along with his wife, Clara
Harris. The chain was particularly successful, and the couple were
able to afford an upscale home in Friendswood, Texas and luxury cars,
including Clara's Mercedes-Benz. The couple had married on February
14, 1993, and were raising three children, twin sons born in 1996 and
David's daughter Lindsey from a previous marriage.
During the course of his marriage to Clara however,
David began having an affair with his former receptionist, Gail
Bridges, who later admitted to the affair. Clara, who was suspicious,
had hired a private detective agency to spy on her husband, and on
July 24, 2002, the agency notified Clara that her husband was at the
Nassau Bay Hilton Hotel with his mistress.
Murder and Trial
When Clara Harris went to the Hilton Hotel to
confront her husband, she reportedly attacked her husband's mistress
Gail Bridges. When hotel security guards escorted Clara to her
Mercedes-Benz, she was apparently still mad, and she took her anger
out on her husband. When David and Gail came out of the hotel, Clara
struck down her husband in the parking lot as her teenaged
stepdaughter sat in the passenger seat. According to the medical
examiner's office, Clara ran over her husband three times. David was
dead at the scene, and Clara was charged with first-degree murder.
Her trial began the following February. At the
trial Lindsey Harris testified against her stepmother, claiming to
have attempted suicide four times after her father's death. Also
introduced at Clara's trial was an actual videotape of the crime,
recorded by the detective agency she had hired.
Clara Harris was found guilty of murdering her
husband and on February 14, 2003, she was sentenced to 20 years in
prison and fined $10,000. Twenty years is the maximum sentence allowed
by the jury's "sudden passion" finding and would have been the minimum
without a finding of "sudden passion." Ironically, Valentine's Day
would have been Clara and David Harris's tenth wedding anniversary.
She is incarcerated at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas.
She will be eligible for parole in 2013. Clara's sons are in the
custody of friends, and they see their mother often.
A book titled Out of Control was written by
Steven Long about the murder case. Published in 2004 by St. Martin's
Paperbacks (as part of their St. Martin's True Crime Library series),
the book follows the story of the murder and the reasons behind it.
This story was the inspiration for the completion
of a chapter in the series Mexican Mujeres Asesinas "Killer
Women". The chapter name is Luz, overwhelming (Luz, arrolladora).
The case was profiled on the Oxygen Network series
Snapped in 2004 and Deadly Women in 2010.
It was also the topic of a Lifetime Original movie,
Suburban Madness, starring Elizabeth Peña and Brett Cullen.
Harris gets 20 years for Mercedes murder
February 14, 2003
Clara Harris was sentenced to 20 years in prison
and a $10,000 fine Friday for killing her husband in a hotel parking
lot with her Mercedes-Benz.
Clara and David Harris were married on Valentine's
Day. Their 11th wedding anniversary would have been Friday.
The jury began deliberating the penalty phase of
Harris' murder trial about 10:30 a.m. EST Friday after closing
arguments, which became a battle of tears between the defendant and
On Thursday, jurors found Harris, 45, guilty of
murder for repeatedly running over her 44-year-old orthodontist
husband with her car. The crime was caught on tape by a private
investigator Clara Harris had hired to document her husband's affair.
Jurors found that Harris acted with "sudden
passion," which could have reduced the jurors' recommendation to
probation. Instead, the jury said Harris should be fined and sentenced
to prison at the upper limit of the sentencing guidelines for the
Harris slumped into her chair as the sentence was
Harris' attorney, George Parnham, had argued that
the crime happened moments after an emotional and volatile
confrontation between Harris, her husband and his mistress at the same
hotel where the couple was married.
During his half-hour closing, Parnham also focused
on Harris' twin sons and how they need their mother.
He pointed out that even David Harris' parents and
brother had testified on Clara Harris' behalf.
"I think that speaks volumes to what this jury
should do," Parnham said.
Prosecutor Mia Magness used her rebuttal to try to
dismantle arguments for probation.
She said Harris' boys would be provided for and
they would adjust and survive, "because that's what children do."
She also scoffed at Parnham's statement about
keeping the boys with "the last parent they have on Earth."
"Well, she ought not to be given credit for making
herself a single parent," Magness said.
She then brought up David Harris' daughter,
Lindsey, and began crying as she spoke.
Lindsey Harris was the prosecution's only witness
during the penalty phase of the trial. She was in the car with her
stepmother when her father was killed.
The 17-year-old testified that she had tried to
commit suicide four times in the months after her father's death July
24. Magness reminded jurors how Lindsey Harris had gotten her father's
clothing out of the trash, where they had been thrown earlier that
day, and laid the items out on her bed so she could feel like he was
"Your verdict will in part tell her what she went
through was worth it," Magness said.
The prosecutor said it was "almost offensive" to
consider that the defendant has suffered, too.
"What about the brutality and violence involved in
his death," she asked, going on to describe how Harris lay "dying on
the pavement ... drowning in his own blood while his daughter was
The prosecutor lowered her voice to almost a
whisper as she made her final points.
"Doing the right thing doesn't always feel good,"
she said. "And that's the position you're in right now, but I know you
will do the right thing."
Jury convicts woman in Texas love triangle killing
February 13, 2003
A Texas woman who ran down her cheating
husband with a Mercedes Benz committed murder, a jury decided
Clara Harris, 45, stood still as the verdict was
read, flanked by members of her defense team.
Harris first confronted her orthodontist husband,
David Harris, in the lobby of a Houston hotel on July 24, 2002.
Harris emerged from an elevator with his mistress and receptionist,
Gail Bridges. The altercation quickly moved into the parking lot,
where prosecution witnesses said Harris rammed her husband and circled
around to crush his body.
The jury of nine women and three men convicted
Harris of the most serious of a range of charges, including the lesser
charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Jurors
could still show lenience in choosing a sentence for Harris, a
process that will begin later Thursday morning.
In her closing argument, prosecutor Mia
Magness recalled the testimony of numerous eyewitnesses to the parking
lot killing who said that Harris not only hit her husband with the
front of her late-model luxury sedan — but that she also ran over his
"When you run a person over again and again and
again, your intent is to hurt them. Your intent is to kill them," she
Harris' defense attorney, George Parnham, urged
jurors to consider the marital stress that prefaced the killing, and
offered Gail Bridges as the true villian. "I don't care how you slice
it, she is a home wrecker," said the attorney.
Harris, who took the stand in her own defense, said
she was crestfallen when her husband told her she didn't measure up to
his mistress. Harris said she bought lingerie, scheduled a breast
implant surgery, and joined an expensive gym in the days before the
final confrontation — which she maintained was an accident.
Lindsey Harris, David Harris' daughter from another
marriage, testified otherwise. Harris was in the Mercedes that
evening and told the court that Clara Harris said, "I'm going to hit
him," before stomping on the gas pedal.
After nearly seven hours of deliberation Wednesday,
jurors asked for a readback of testimony concerning a statement Harris
gave to police after the alleged murder, during which Harris said she
wanted to "separate" Harris from his mistress, and that she intended
to hurt David Harris, not kill him.
The important distinction between the three major
charges was Harris' intent.
"At this point it is time for you to call her for
what she is, and that is a murderer," said Magness.
Prosecution witnesses recall wife running over
February 11, 2003
Two men recounted Tuesday the horror of watching
Clara Harris run down her husband with her Mercedes-Benz.
"I wasn't sure if what I was seeing was real," said
Chris Junco, describing the scene at a suburban hotel parking lot last
"I even thought the car was pissed off at him,"
Junco added, pausing and choking back tears.
The prosecution rested its case following testimony
from Junco and Oscar Torres, both of who saw David Harris be run over
in a hotel parking lot across the street from where they were playing
Prosecutors say Clara Harris, 45, intentionally ran
down her husband David last July 24 after confronting him at the hotel
with his lover. A medical examiner has testified the orthodontist was
run over at least twice.
The defense has claimed that David's death --
shortly after a confrontation in the hotel, where she found him with
his mistress, Gail Bridges -- was an accident.
A private detective hired by Clara Harris to follow
her husband to the Nassau Bay Hilton Hotel caught the July 1 event on
videotape, but she testified last week that she had not been aiming at
him and did not remember hitting him.
On Tuesday, Torres, whose tennis game had been
interrupted by screams and screeching tires in the hotel's parking
lot, said he saw a man's body "flying."
"How many times did you see the defendant run over
the body?" Harris County prosecutor Mia Magness asked.
"Three times," Torres replied, adding that he saw
the car make three complete circles in the parking lot before
The witness said he remembered a teenage girl who
was a passenger in the car, jumping out and screaming, "My dad! My
dad! You've killed my dad! He's dead!"
"It was like an animal that would scream in
excruciating pain, out of control," Torres said, describing David
Harris' daughter, Lindsey, who had been in the car with Clara Harris,
"(David Harris) was mauled, he was gasping for
air," Torres said.
Junco told jurors that at first he thought the car
was a "low-rider because of how high it bounced when it ran over the
Clara Harris fought back tears, sometimes holding
her head in both hands during Junco's testimony.
When Magness asked if what Junco had seen could
have been an accident, he said, "No, ma'am."
The defense rested its case after opting not to
call any rebuttal witnesses.
State District Judge Carol Davies set closing
arguments and juror instructions for 10 a.m. EST Wednesday. The jury,
which will be sequestered, was allowed to go home until then.
Clara Harris told police she was only trying to
separate her husband from Gail Bridges and she testified last week she
had wanted "to hurt her husband emotionally, not physically."
"I never saw hitting him. I never saw running over
him," she testified.
The victim's relatives had testified in the widow's
defense Monday, saying the couple was "devoted to each other."
David Harris' brother, Gerald Harris Jr. called
Clara "truthful and credible" and "one of the most law-abiding persons
In rebuttal, prosecutors called a Houston police
officer who testified that according to his analysis, Clara Harris ran
over her husband at least twice.
Under questioning from her own attorney last week,
Harris said, "everything seemed like a dream" as she drove the car
during the fatal incident.
-- CNN Correspondent Art Harris contributed to this
Parents of man run over and killed by wife
testify for defense
February 10, 2003
The mother-in-law of a Houston dentist who killed
her husband with a Mercedes-Benz defended her daughter-in-law Monday,
saying the couple was "devoted to each other."
During her testimony, Mildred Harris looked
directly at her daughter-in-law, defendant Clara Harris, and smiled as
she recounted her attributes as a wife, mother, and daughter-in-law.
"(Clara) included us in everything," Mildred Harris
said. "(She) loved David very much."
The defendant dabbed her eyes from time to time as
she listened to the testimony.
Before calling Mildred and Gerald Harris to the
stand Monday, defense attorney George Parnham filed a motion to have a
two-hour tape of his client's statement to police admitted into
It is "the best evidence available of her state of
mind," Parnham said.
But Judge Carol Davies ruled that only excerpts of
the tape directly related to the incident could be played for the
jury. Parnham declined and none of the tape was admitted into
Prosecutors say Harris, 45, intentionally ran down
her husband last July after confronting him at the hotel with his
lover. A medical examiner has testified the orthodontist was run over
at least twice.
The incident was caught on videotape by a private
detective hired by Harris to follow her husband.
The defense has claimed that the death of David
Harris -- shortly after a confrontation in the hotel, where she found
him with his mistress, Gail Bridges -- was an accident.
Clara Harris said she had been working tirelessly
to save the 10-year marriage since learning of his affair the week
During cross-examination on Friday, Harris County
prosecutor Mia Magness tried to use Clara Harris' statements to police
to refute that claim.
"Isn't it true you told police, 'I was trying to
separate him from her?'" Magness asked.
"Yes, if that's what the tape says," Harris said,
adding that she did not remember the statement.
The defendant broke down in tears at least 12 times
during cross-examination, prompting the judge to send jurors out of
the courtroom. But at other times, she was composed and held her own
against the prosecutor's fire.
Under questioning from her own attorney Friday,
Harris said that "everything seemed like a dream" as she drove the car
during the fatal incident. She remembered how her stepdaughter kept
Fatal infidelity: When adultery investigations
By Matt Bean - Court TV
August 6, 2002
When Clara Harris drove to a Houston-area Hilton,
she may have simply wanted to confront her husband about his adultery.
But the confrontation turned violent. In the hotel parking lot, Harris
slammed her Mercedes into David Harris three times and then left it
parked on his lifeless body.
For Harris, a 44-year-old dentist, the naked truth
may have been too much to bear: The day before her July 24 rampage she
had hired a private investigator to uncover her husband's infidelity.
She found him at the hotel with Gail Bridges, a secretary who had once
worked at his orthodontic clinic.
The vigilant private investigator, who was situated
in the parking lot with a video camera, filmed the fatal rampage.
"Our investigator had the camera focused on the
subject until the very end," said Bobbi Bacha, who runs Blue Moon
Catching a killing on film isn't de rigueur for a
private investigator, but as PIs themselves are the first to admit the
practice of vetting adultery allegations often results in violence.
"It's a tricky situation and there are a lot of
emotions involved," said Bobby Newman of the Texas firm ACTA
There are no national statistics kept on crimes of
passion in which investigators played a role, but most seasoned
investigators have anecdotes and newspaper clippings at the ready when
asked whether they, too, were involved in cases that went wrong.
In 30 years in the business, Newman says he has
seen a number of adultery investigations turn dangerous. In 1990, he
was retained by Arlene Rogan to trail her husband, whom she suspected
of having an affair. He was. Distraught over Newman's reports, the
wealthy socialite ultimately killed her husband and then committed
suicide aboard their yacht. More recently, Newman trailed the husband
of Lynn Ryan Kilroy, who was convicted this year of soliciting his
For many firms, trailing potential adulterers is a
necessary evil. The PI business bills by the hour, and adultery can be
a cash cow compared to duties such as serving subpoenas or other court
orders (Newman was retained by David Harris' daughter to serve a
motion to freeze the couple's assets last week) and conducting
interviews with witnesses, says Newman.
"I laugh when I hear about these firms saying they
don't take divorce [cases]," said the PI. "It's just more business for
Business keeps rolling in for PIs only because
couples keep cheating, says Ken Raggio, a lawyer with the Dallas firm
Raggio & Raggio and a former chair of the American Bar Association's
family law group. Couples considering divorce often have an incentive
to catch philandering spouses with private investigators, says the
lawyer, and hard evidence of adultery can open up the coffers.
In Texas and most other states, a so-called "fault"
divorce on grounds of cruel treatment, abandonment, adultery and even
addiction can give a spouse a chance at more than the normal 50-50
Fault divorces were the norm three decades ago
before the introduction of the amicable "no-fault" clause, now on the
books in every state except Illinois and South Dakota. Then, private
investigators were integral to the oft-staged adultery investigations
needed to justify marital splits.
But today, says Raggio, those investigations can
mean the difference between getting the house and getting an outdated
set of encyclopedias. "You never know what you're going to need," said
the lawyer. "You hope everything is going to work out, but sometimes
... if you have bad facts on the other side it persuades people that
they don't want to play hardball."
Another motive, says the lawyer, is the "undying
quest for the truth."
"If somebody feels that they have been living an
ethical life, and they find out their spouse is leading a double life,
they get pissed," said Raggio. "And sometimes when you find out the
truth, you get angry."
And the truth isn't often pretty. "The majority of
times people come to an investigator it's probably true," said David
Kale, a California investigator who has worked on more than 15,000
cases since 1965. Emotional reactions happen regularly, says the
investigator. "We always talk to the client later because you don't
want that to occur," he says. "You don't want somebody to run off with
One precaution firms take to make sure clients
don't have violent reactions is to keep them away from the scene of
the investigation. "It says in our agreement that if our client is on
the scene in any fashion that we will pull out of the case and they
will lose any refunds," said Bacha.
Harris' rampage clearly illustrates the reasoning
behind the rule. The successful dentist may have simply intended to
catch her husband in the act. She had hired Blue Moon only the day
before, after her husband reportedly confessed the affair and even
revealed the location of the illicit trysts.
But soon after Harris arrived at the Hilton, with
her husband's 16-year-old daughter from a previous marriage in tow,
she became enraged. Harris demanded that a hotel employee summon the
adulterous couple to the lobby.
When they arrived, a scuffle broke out between the
two women, and Bridges lost her blouse. Hotel security guards
intervened, and the combatants retreated to the parking lot.
David Harris was heading for his Lincoln Navigator
when his wife first hit him with her Mercedes. The blow threw him into
the air, and she hit him again before he landed. With her stepdaughter
screaming and trying to exit the car, Clara Harris spun around to
crush and recrush his body.
Not every cuckolded spouse is liable to snap like
Harris, and that's why Kale says his business tries to choose clients
who don't appear prone to knee-jerk reactions. Kale's first meeting
with a client is generally something of a psychological evaluation.
Whether Harris actually snapped is a matter that
will be left to the courts to decide. Out of jail on $30,000 bail, she
told reporters after the rampage that it was an accident, and her
attorney indicated last week that she plans to plead not guilty. In
the interim, her conduct on July 24 was enough to convince one judge
to issue an order of protection keeping Harris away from her husband's
Famous inmate talks about prison,
her children and her crime
never saw him,' Clara Harris says
By Ruth Rendon - The Houston Chronicle
Feb. 27, 2005
convicted of killing her husband by running him over with her car,
talks with reporter Ruth Rendon in prison last Wednesday.
GATESVILLE - After
two years in prison, Clara Harris, the Friendswood dentist convicted
of running over her husband in her Mercedes-Benz, has involuntarily
turned her attention from dental work to passing her time learning to
convert printed text into Braille.
In an exclusive
interview with the Houston Chronicle, Harris talked about her work,
visits with her twin boys who live with family friends, prison life
and her hopes of a new trial. She also maintained that she doesn't
remember running down her husband, David Harris, the evening of July
"I didn't know
what David died of," Harris said. A week after her husband's death,
her father-in-law told her David's chest had been crushed.
In the hourlong
interview, Harris revealed:
•How she is
adjusting to prison life, including her wake-up schedule and workload.
•Her fears about the safety of her children because of her notoriety.
•Her relationship with other inmates.
•Her children's psychologist warning her not to cry in front of her
twin boys during their visits.
•Her hopes of being able to visit with Lindsey Harris, her
stepdaughter and front-seat passenger in the Mercedes-Benz.
•Fears that her 20-year prison term will not be overturned on appeal.
Except for a brief interview with the Chronicle in May 2003, Harris
has not spoken with the media until now. With her frustration over not
being granted a new trial, Harris said she wanted to discuss her life
after the killing.
convicted six months after the incident, on what would have been her
10th wedding anniversary, of murdering her husband and sentenced to 20
years in prison. She is eligible for parole after 10 years.
painted a picture of Harris outraged after finding her orthodontist
husband with his mistress, Gail Bridges, at the Nassau Bay Hilton
hotel. Earlier he had promised to break off his relationship with
Bridges. Not trusting him, Clara Harris hired a private investigator
to follow him.
'Doing something good'
ended up with a videotape of Harris driving her car in circles in the
hotel parking lot. When the car stopped, David Harris, 44, was dead.
interview, Harris, dressed in prison-issued white drawstring pants and
smock, talked about the work with Braille she does with 60 other
female inmates at the Mountain View Unit outside of Gatesville in
"It is the best
thing that is happening in this place," a smiling Harris said from
behind a wire-mesh and Plexiglas enclosure. "I got into it about a
year ago and am about to get my certification to become a Braille
transcriber. I didn't know how important that was until I got into it
seriously. We really love the profession because we know that we're
doing something good for the blind kids in the state of Texas."
Harris, now 47,
said transcribing public school textbooks into Braille keeps her mind
occupied and helps her not to think about being away from her
6-year-old twins, Brian and Bradley, who live with family friends in
The books on
history, government, science, math, and music, she said, are subjects
she wants to know about "so I can help my kids with their homework one
day. It helps your mind because you're constantly learning different
things that are interesting."
Should Harris be
released after 10 years, her boys will be 14 years old.
operated a thriving dental practice in Lake Jackson, says she
routinely takes work back to her cell. She also is taking a psychology
"I have tried to
keep my schedule pretty busy. In my cell, I don't have much time.
Studying Braille, studying psychology, writing letters," she said.
The day for Harris
and the other inmates starts at 3 a.m. with breakfast at 3:30 a.m.
"I cannot eat
breakfast at 3:30 in the morning. There is no way. I've been here two
years already and I haven't been able to get into that schedule," she
said with a laugh.
takes the time to mail the numerous letters she frequently writes to
her children, family and friends.
At 4:30 a.m., she
stands in line to pick up her daily clothing and a towel. Once a week,
she gets clean sheets and a clean gown to sleep in.
Everybody knows her
Today's attire is
in sharp contrast to the well-groomed woman in tailored business suits
who faced cameras every day of her two-week trial.
meticulously coiffed during the trial, now is fashioned into a pony
tail with gray hair visible on her temples.
"It's kind of
funny. Initially when I came here at that time of the day it's usually
real foggy. All you see are these white uniforms walking quietly. You
feel like you're in purgatory seeing all these souls walking by. It
was real eerie," she said. "It's like a community. You feel for
For the most part,
Harris says she feels comfortable and safe in prison.
case made international news, was the butt of jokes on late-night TV
shows and even made its way to the prison — making her somewhat of a
"That is so
terrible because I walk and everybody says, 'Hello, Clara.' I think
it's people that I know and I turn and I don't recognize their faces.
Initially I was trying to make an effort to see who is this person
that I don't remember. Now I know that everybody knows everything
about me, and I don't know who they are," she said.
Warden Audrey Lynn
Smith said she realizes Harris' case is well known. The warden does
not allow publications in the prison's library about inmates so she
consulted with Harris before a made-for-TV movie about the case was to
air last year.
"I asked her if
she wanted me to block the movie," Smith said. "She said, 'No, I want
to see what they say about me.' "
After the movie
aired, Smith asked Harris what she thought.
She said Harris
quickly replied, "I never wore that black leather outfit."
Worried about children
Her notoriety and
the publicity about her case cause her great concern for her children.
Inmates, like others, know where her children live. She is fearful
someone may harm them or, worse yet, kidnap them and demand a large
ransom. Following a bitter custody battle between Harris and her
in-laws, Gerald and Mildred Harris of Pearland, a Brazoria County
judge granted joint custody of the boys to their mother and family
friends, Pat and Ana Jones in September 2003.
Harris is able to
have up to three contact visits a month with her children. Ana Jones
and other loyal friends make the eight-hour round-trip drive so the
boys can see their mother. Harris insists the boys, who already are
busy with T-ball and soccer, not miss their activities so they end up
seeing their mother about once a month.
She already is
looking forward to next weekend's planned visit.
With tears running
down her cheeks, Harris said every time the boys show up she thinks
they'll tell her they no longer want to visit. Instead, they run to
her with arms extended, each clamoring for their mother's attention.
Her tears streamed
down her face even more — prompting a guard to bring her a roll of
toilet paper to use to wipe away the tears — when she explained that
Jones told her that the boys often ask, "Would you take me to see my
The boys were 3
when their father died and 4 when their mother was sent to prison.
"They are growing.
They are up to my chest. They were up to my hip when I left them,"
Harris said, sobbing. "They are so mature. They are such good boys.
They really behave. They are so good at their school. They are so
smart. That just makes me so proud. They both are reading. They write
little notes, 'I love you Mama.' They write their names."
No tears allowed
parents who hang their children's art on the refrigerator, Harris
keeps her children's art and photos in a locker box. No displays are
allowed on the walls of her cell.
"They make me
drawings and write I love you," she said. "What amazes me is that even
though it's been two years, they still love me like if I never left."
psychologist found them suffering from depression and separation
anxiety and warned Harris not to cry in front of them, even if they
are "happy tears."
Harris said she
struggles not to cry. "I try to be real happy. It's hugs and kisses,"
During the visits,
the talkative boys fill their mother with details about their school,
teacher, friends and their grandparents, whom they routinely visit.
The three spend time playing with plastic blocks provided by the
prison, playing house and building robots.
Many times Jones
will entertain one boy while Harris visits with the other.
"I check their
hands and I check their feet. They love that," she said. "When they
come in, they take their shoes off. They are ready because they want
me to check on their feet to make sure their toenails are nice and
One person with
whom Harris has not spoken is her stepdaughter, Lindsey Harris. The
teenager who lives in Ohio was a front-seat passenger in the
Mercedes-Benz when her father was killed. She was the star witness and
testified against Clara Harris.
"They have kept
her away. She has said she doesn't want to come back to Texas, but the
boys told me that she was coming in the summer. I hope she comes,"
Harris said. "I wish there was a way to talk to her."
Harris admits it
would be difficult since the two would be talking though a Plexiglas
wall and in public.
"I know she's
suffering. I know that in the court when they gave the verdict she was
the one that was crying the loudest, saying she had taken the mother
away from (Lindsey's) brothers. I know that she knows in her heart
that her testimony must have helped in putting me here. I know she
knows in her heart that I never intended to do this to David," she
Marty Weber, a
Houston attorney who represented Lindsey in a civil proceeding against
her stepmother, said he did not recall Lindsey crying the loudest in
court or saying she had taken her stepbrothers away from their mother.
Weber said he
keeps in contact with Lindsey, who is now in college, but was not
aware of her planning a trip to Texas. He said it would be up to
Lindsey to decide if she wanted to see Harris.
waits and worries about her appeal. She and her attorneys are hopeful
an appellate court will agree with their position that a videotaped
re-creation of the events of July 24, 2002, should have been shown to
jurors. State District Judge Carol Davies, who presided over the
trial, declined to allow the tape as evidence.
Harris said she
does not have a clear memory of July 24, 2002. A week after her
husband died, she asked her father-in-law to explain what happened to
"The car ran over
him?" she said she asked. "He said, 'Yes.' I didn't know. I never saw
re-creation helped her understand what happened. She maintains one of
the car's tires ran over her husband once, not three times as
witnesses, including Lindsey, testified.
"My attorneys are
very confident but also very fearful just like I am," she said of her
chances of getting her conviction overturned.
"What happens in
the court is unknown. We just have to wait and see. That causes me
horrendous fear. It's so difficult for me because it's just up in the