Just over two months ago, Clara Harris, the Texas dentist who made headlines in 2002 after she ran over and killed her cheating husband, was released from prison. This gruesome killing became sensationalized by the media, with her Houston trial generating true-crime books and a made-for-tv movie.
Clara, who is originally from Colombia, and her orthodontist husband David, were a successful couple who owned several dental offices. They lived in an upscale home in the Houston suburb of Friendswood. Clara became suspicious that David was having an affair and she eventually hired a private investigator.
When Clara was told by her PI that her husband and his former receptionist Gail Bridges were at the Hilton in Nassau Bay, she confronted the woman in the hotel lobby, pulling her hair and biting her. David and Gail left the hotel and went to Gail’s car. The private investigator was in the hotel parking lot with a camera rolling when Clara hit David with her car and preceded to run over him, turning her silver Mercedes-Benz around and running the car over him repeatedly.
Crimes of passion always make interesting cases. Defense attorneys and prosecutors describe these crimes as anything between a tragic accident and a cold-blooded, first-degree murder. Clara was found guilty of murdering her husband and in February 2003, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined $10,000. Twenty years is the maximum sentence allowed by the jury’s “sudden passion” finding. Her release after 15 years didn’t satisfy everyone and many people believe she should have served the full 20. In today’s episode, Murder by Mercedes, we will learn about Clara and David’s lives together, the details of David’s death, and Clara’s incarceration and recent release.
Just throwing my two cents in regarding different experiences incarcerated. I don’t believe the different experiences stem from a difference in the institution, but am firmly convinced that it has everything to do with the individual. If she keeps her mind on what she doesn’t have, and what’s going on outside the prison, she’ll be miserable. With the right mind set, one recognizes that prison presents opportunities rarely found on the outside. What could you do with nothing but time? no concerns about paying bills or shopping, getting gas in your tank or cooking dinner. No energy spent avoiding your significant other when he smells like alcohol, or fielding calls from telesales bots. No make-up to apply or clothing styles to choose. No uncomfortable shoes in the snow, no shoveling walkways, no fender-benders, no deadlines at work. You are now living a simplified life (like it or not!)
So what will you do with it? If you accept that you can’t control a lot of things, you’ll find that one thing you do control is how you use this time. You can learn new skills, or write the book you’ve always felt you had in you. You can develop a workout routine and become fitter and stronger than you ever have. You might mentor younger women in a matronly way, or learn a new card game, or even some magic tricks. You might be introduced to something you never considered, but love, as Clara did with Braille translation.
Good for her! I say.