Clara Harris Blames Conviction On Attorney

Appeal Cites Ineffective Counsel

HOUSTON - The woman who was convicted of running over and killing her cheating husband in a Clear Lake hotel parking lot hired a new attorney and wants a new trial based on ineffective counsel from her high-profile trial attorney, George Parnham, KPRC Local 2 reported.

Harris' appellate attorney filed court papers Tuesday requesting the new trial.

"He had inapplicable and nonexistent defenses that he relied on," attorney Randy Schaffer said. "So, basically, he left his client without any defense when, in fact, there was a reasonable chance that if the case had been properly defended, she would have been convicted of a lesser offense like negligent homicide or manslaughter or something like that."

Harris was convicted in 2003 of murdering her husband, David Harris, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Schaffer claimed Parnham used two defenses that did not exist under Texas law -- that David Harris' death was an accident and that there was no intent to kill.

"If you got the wrong defense, it doesn't matter how good your performance is, you've got nothing to give to the jury. You leave the jury with no alternative but to convict her of murder," he said.

Schaffer also said Parnham's poor health affected his performance. Parnham was taken away from the courthouse by ambulance at one point during the trial. Schaffer said he believes Parnham was in a rush to get the trial over with.

An attorney speaking on Parnham's behalf described Parnham as a respected and effective defense attorney across the country. He said Parnham feels certain that when the trial records are reviewed, it will become clear that Parnham provided a superb defense.

Schaffer said the appeals case would be heard in the spring of next year, at the earliest.

Previous Stories:

Copyright 2011 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.