Clara Harris spent more than 15 years in prison for murdering her husband in 2002. She was found guilty and sentenced to the maximum of 20 years.
Harris was released from prison on parole Friday.
On the night of her arrest in 2002, Clara Harris told KPRC Channel 2 cameras, ‘It was an accident.’
According to KPRC2 legal analyst Brian Wice, it’s also how her defense attorneys tried to convince a jury to acquit her in her murder trial.
“I always had concerns of the fairness of the integrity of the trial and the ultimate punishment,” he said. “There hasn’t been a defensive accident in Texas for a very long time.”
On February 14, 2003, the jury convicted Harris of murder found to have acted in sudden passion.
The reduced charge also reduced the sentence, but the jury still gave her the maximum of 20 years in prison.
The conviction was upheld in an appeals court.
Clara Harris suspected her husband, Dr. David Harris, of having an affair with a former employee. She hired a private investigator with Blue Moon Investigations, in Webster, the same day of his murder.
The investigator found David and his mistress at a Hilton hotel in Nassau Bay on July 24, 2002.
Clara Harris showed up and confronted the couple before a fight ended in the parking lot with Clara Harris repeatedly running over her husband.
The investigator recorded the crime and talked to the then-dentist after she bonded out of jail.
“I did hear her voice crackle a little bit when she asked about the tragical events for the first time. But she still kept prom and proper. Straight-laced. You wouldn't know that she was in prison the night before,” said investigator Bobbi Bacha.
During her prison sentence, Clara Harris’ twin boys, Brian and Bradley, have been in the custody of two of her friends, Pat and Ana Jones, of Friendswood.
After her arrest, Clara Harris had initially given her in-laws, Gerald and Mildred Harris, custody of the twins.
"It was a very tearful, joyous event in the judge's chambers," said Lenette Terry, Clara Harris' attorney after the decision to place them with the Joneses. "We came to a very amicable settlement, where the boys are going to live primarily with Ana and Pat Jones, but they're going to see their grandparents a lot."
They were only toddlers at the time of their father’s murder.
Clara Harris dentistry
Clara Harris worked as a dentist. Her husband was an orthodontist. They had several dental offices, including one in Clear Lake and another in Lake Jackson.
After the conviction, the state revoked her legal right to practice dentistry in Texas.
“She has given up her right to make a livelihood as a dentist. When her conviction was upheld 13 years ago, that came; that went. That dental ship sailed,” Wice said.
A board granted Clara Harris parole in 2017 and she was set to be released on May 11, 2018.
She’ll remain on parole through 2023.
“Parole is an even more difficult road than just being on probation. You’ve basically given up your right to privacy. Because you’ve made that trade of walking out the front door of the penitentiary,” Wice said.
Conditions of Clara Harris' parole
- Gainful employment
- No contact with Dr. Gerald Harris, Jr., Barbara Harris, Gerald Harris, Gail Thompson and Lindsey Ngo
- Electronic monitoring (ankle bracelet)
- Reside in the legal county of residence (Galveston County)
- Demonstrate sixth-grade educational skill level
- Alcohol and controlled substance testing
- No contact with victim's family