The Clara Harris Case

In 2002 Clara Harris became a household name.  News stations all over began airing a video taken by a private investigator that Clara had hired to follow her husband showing Clara running down her husband with her car and repeatedly running over him.  

When the details started to emerge it divided the country, often by sex, as to what she should face.  There were those who thought she should have walked and that her husband, David, deserved it.  There were others who thought she should have been punished to some extent, many stating because she had David's 17 year old daughter with her in the car, but left off easier than most.  And, then of course there were those who believed "the book" should have been thrown at her.  The fact the crime took place in Texas could have worked for or against her.  Texas is notorious for being hard on criminals and it is said they have "an express lane" to the gas chamber but they also tend to give a lot of consideration to crimes of passion, especially when the victim is perceived to be less than stellar.

David and Clara Harris were married February 14, 1993.  Soon after Clara gave birth to twin boys and they were also raising his daughter, Lindsey.  David and Clara were both dentists and soon they had a chain of offices and were very well off financially.  At some point, David began having an affair with a receptionist at one of his offices named Gail Bridges.  By many accounts it was not as if he, or her, attempted to hide things very well and it nearly immediately became common knowledge throughout the office and Clara soon found out.  By most accounts at this point Clara attempted to become the perfect wife whether it be in devotion or to physically change herself so her husband would find her more attractive.  She had confronted David several times about the affair and as most unfaithful spouse do, he initially vehemently denied the affair and often accused Clara of being delusional.  Finally at some point he did admit to the affair and told Clara that he would end it.  Many believe that he did this solely for the reason that he had figured out how much a divorce would cause him financially as well as damage his reputation.  

Although he had promised to end the affair, Clara was not certain and hired a private detective to follow David.  On July 24, 2002 the detective informed her that David and Gail were at a local hotel.  Clara gathered Lindsey with her and went to the hotel.  She confronted David and Gail in the lobby and a confrontation between the two women ensued.  Across the street from the hotel the private detective was watching with a video camera at hand.  Security got involved and escorted Clara and Lindsey out of the hotel.  Clara was furious.  As she was pulling out of her parking place David and Gail began walking towards Gail's car just near or in front of Clara.  At this point Clara hit the gas and hit David with her car.  By this time the detective was video taping and later the world saw Clara's car go around and around in a circle (near the entrance of the hotel) and strike David, who by this time was on the ground, at least a few more  times.  

Clara went to trial in February 2003 and on February 14th, on what would have been her 10th wedding anniversary a jury found her guilty of murder in the 1st degree.  However, they found the circumstances to be caused by "sudden passion," a legal defense in Texas and the maximum (to which she received) she could be sentenced was 20 years.   Much of the evidence against her was given through the testimony of David's daughter, Lindsey.  

Later David's parents and daughter sued Clara in civil court and received an undisclosed amount in judgement.  There was also a custody case involving the twins.  Eventually, even though in jail, Clara maintained joint custody with some family friends who are now raising her boys.

In December 2012 Clara was interviewed and the report will be sent to the parole board who will decide (likely very soon) if she will be released from prison on February 9, 2013.  Arguments are mixed.  Many say that it is likely she will be released while others say it would be unusual as it is her first parole hearing.  Her former attorney has pointed out that Clara has been a model prisoner and that her children are now young teenagers that she could be a positive influence to and that those things will work in her favor.  If she is denied parole it will be reviewed annually until 2023 when her full sentence will be served.


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Comments

  1. I hope Clara gets parole. He pushed her too far. She just lost her mind. this case always been reminds me that we each have a breaking point.

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  2. I totally agree. This case for me borders on the likes of the Betty Broderick case where the man just pushed and pushed a woman that was likely clearly on the edge... lied to them, made them (and told them) they were the crazy ones and then died for it.

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