New York Post

July 27, 2002


New York Post

May plead insanity.

- AP

July 27, 2002 -- An angry Houston woman killed her orthodontist husband by running him over five times in a hotel parking lot with her Mercedes-Benz - after she caught him with a woman she believed was his mistress, authorities said yesterday.

Clara Harris went berserk Wednesday night and plowed the luxury car into hubby David Lynn Harris as his 16-year-old daughter from another marriage sat in the passenger seat, authorities said.

She rode over him in a circle, hitting him three times before putting the car in reverse, backing up onto him and parking on his battered body, authorities said. John Tyler, who witnessed the incident, said he heard a woman scream, "You bitch! He's my husband!" Tyler said Harris then tried to pull his wife off the other woman.

"She said, ‘This is Doctor so-and-so and we're here today because he's [having an affair with this woman],' " Tyler said.

The 44-year-old Harris, also a prominent local dentist, was charged with murder and freed yesterday on $30,000 bond at a court hearing in which she stood still, said little and appeared to be still seething in anger.

Harris is being represented by Houston lawyer George Parnham, who became nationally known for putting on the insanity defense of killer tub-mom Andrea Yates.

"This is an overwhelming tragedy for the family and her children," he said after the hearing.

The stunning attack happened just before 9 p.m. at the Nassau Bay Hilton, which sits along NASA Road 1 on the edge of the Johnson Space Center.

Harris went there after becoming so suspicious of her husband's cheating ways that she hired a private detective agency to track him.

Sources told The Post the private eye's probe wasn't enough for Harris, and she began hunt for her hubby herself.

Somehow she tracked him to the hotel - and spotted him there with another woman, whom authorities called his "companion" and identified in court as Gail Bridges.

Harris first confronted Bridges inside the hotel doors. As the women battled, Harris ripped the woman's shirt off in the busy lobby before hotel guests and workers could intervene, authorities said. Clara Harris "was very angry, very angry," a witness told the Houston Chronicle. "Every time they pulled her apart, she'd kind of go at her again.

"While all this was happening, the teenage girl was actually hitting the dad with her purse. She was screaming, ‘I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!' "

Hotel workers finally prevailed upon Harris to leave, which she appeared to do. But as her husband walked to his own vehicle, witnesses heard the squeal of tires and saw Harris' silver Mercedes plow into him and knock him about 25 feet.

As she continued the vehicular assault - rolling over a nearby grassy median and repeatedly mashing him beneath the vehicle - witnesses raced to the side of the car and knocked on her window, begging her to stop.

Soon police arrived and arrested the deranged dentist, whose husband died later at a hospital.

The daughter was devastated.

"I saw her daughter lying on the ground, crying uncontrollably," a witness told the Chronicle. "She had to watch her dad five feet from here, underneath the car, while they're putting her mom in handcuffs."

A source told The Post the whole incident was captured on videotape by a detective from Blue Moon Investigations who had been at the hotel doing surveillance of the orthodontist at Harris' request. The tape is now in the hands of police.

Harris, who lived in a large suburban Houston mansion with her husband, was ordered to stay away from Bridges as she awaits trial. Her attorney said he would consider an insanity defense, which could be similar to the defense Yates used before being convicted of murdering her children.

Copyright 2001 NYP Holdings, Inc.