Appeals Court Upholds Murder Conviction

9-14-05 - Texas' highest criminal appeals court on Wednesday refused to consider the case of a Houston woman convicted of killing her cheating husband by running over him in a hotel parking lot after finding him with his mistress.

Clara Harris had asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to consider her demand to overturn her murder conviction and grant her a new trial. A lower appeals court had denied her case in December.

Harris is serving a 20-year prison sentence for the slaying of her husband, David Harris, who was an orthodontist.

Although she can ask the Court of Criminal Appeals to reconsider its ruling, Wednesday's decision likely ends her appeals, said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Keating.

"We're pleased," Keating said. "It was kind of a high-publicity case, but as far as the legal issues go, it was relatively simple."

Harris' attorney did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

Her appeal claimed jurors didn't get to hear evidence that she had accidentally struck her husband as he stood outside his lover's vehicle in the parking lot in July 2002. She also said the trial court erred by not allowing jurors to see a videotape and virtual reality re-creation of the path her Mercedes-Benz took. Excluding the tapes led to an incomplete defense, her attorneys said.

The lower appeals court rejected all of her claims. The ruling by the high court simply said her request for further review was denied and did not detail the decision.

Harris, who had been looking for her husband on the night of his death, found him with his mistress in the hotel's lobby as they exited an elevator.

Security guards escorted both women from the hotel - the same place the Harrises were married a decade earlier - following a physical confrontation.

After Clara Harris got into her car, she drove toward the back of the parking lot where the vehicle of her husband's mistress was parked. Harris had earlier broken a windshield wiper on the vehicle and scratched it.

David Harris was standing near the open driver's side door of his mistress' vehicle when he was struck.

Clara Harris will be eligible for parole after serving 10 years. She faced up to life in prison but drew a lesser penalty because jurors found she was driven by "sudden passion" to run down her husband.