Clara Harris Pleads Not Guilty

Trial To Begin In January

HOUSTON - As expected, a Houston-area dentist pleaded not guilty Friday, accused of murdering her orthodontist husband with her silver Mercedes Benz.

Defense attorney George Parnham said last week that Clara Harris, 44, would enter a not guilty plea during her arraignment.

"Today was simply going through some housekeeping procedures and letting the court know what's happening as far as discovery is concerned," Parnham said. "We've got a lot of work to do and we're in the process of trying to get through it."

Parnham said that Harris' mental state the night her husband was killed will be an issue in her defense, but it will not be an insanity defense.

"There's a mental aspect here," Parham said. "Every facet of her life will be relevant to her mind set on the (July) 24th."

The incident happened the night of July 24 at the Hilton Nasa Clear Lake, Nasa Road 1, in Nassau Bay.

Prosecutors said Harris intentionally and knowingly murdered her husband of 10 years, David, in the hotel's parking lot after confronting him and another woman at the hotel.

Harris initially told a News2Houston reporter that her husband's death was "an accident" and has not spoken publicly since. Parnham said family of the dead man has been supportive of his client.

Earlier that day, Harris had hired a private investigation agency to trail her husband, whom she suspected of having an affair with the woman. An investigator taped what occurred that night in the parking lot.

During the arraignment Friday, Parnham said that he has still not seen the investigator's videotape and other evidence needed for Harris' defense.

"They've received more than they are entitled to (and) they've received it earlier than the court has ordered us to turn over anything," lead Prosecutor Dan Rizzo said. "We're continuing to give them full access to almost every file that we have with the exception of some work Friday."

The judge ordered all evidence that the defense is entitled to be handed over by next Friday.

Parham has said that based on interviews with witnesses, he thinks the videotape might help his client, who went to the hotel that night with her husband's 16-year-old daughter.

Lindsey Harris said in a court filing shortly after her father's death that she witnessed her stepmother "kill my father, David L. Harris, by striking him with her Mercedes Benz."

Harris' trial date has been set for Jan. 21.

If convicted, Harris could face up to life in prison.

She remains free on $30,000 bond.

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Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.