Tag Archives: Lies

Clara Harris – How dare you leave me?

In 2003 Clara Harris was convicted of the murder of her husband David Harris.  That she killed him was never disputed because it was caught on camera.  Clara, either in a fit of rage, or accidentally, ran her husband over in a hotel parking lot where he had met with his mistress, Gail Bridges.

Clara was born in Bogotá and worked hard to fulfil her dream of working in the United States.  A dentist, she met David Harris, an orthodontist and together they ran half a dozen successful dental offices.

Everybody in their workplace was aware of David’s affair with the office assistant, Gail, who had earlier, during her own divorce proceedings, been implicated in an affair with a woman called Julie Knight.

The jury took into account ‘sudden passion’ before sentencing Clara to twenty years in prison.

Clara Harris was a woman who worked hard at success, in life and in marriage.  The news of David’s affair came as a devastating blow to her and she became intensely insecure.  She went so far as to ask David to make a list of comparisons between her and Gail which she set out to correct immediately.  Such as losing weight, colouring her hair and making an appointment with a plastic surgeon.

On the night of the murder, David had told her that he was meeting with Gail at the hotel to put an end to the affair.  When he did not return home, Clara and Lindsey (David’s daughter) went to the hotel to look for him.  Now I can imagine what state she was in.  How her stomach turned in fear of what she would find.  And what she did find was David and Gail walking in the hotel lobby, hand in hand.  They had spent two hours together in a hotel room.

A scene followed in the hotel lobby with Clara apparently attacking Gail.  David then took Gail to the car park and Clara and Lindsey got into her Mercedes.  At some point, as she spotted David and Gail, Clara put her foot down and tried to run them over.  She says all of that time is a blur to her.  Gail was injured slightly but David was seriously hurt.  Onlookers say that Clara then ran over David again and again.  He died shortly after.

Now I don’t condone what she did, murder is not a solution to any problem.  But I can put myself in Clara’s shoes.  Firstly, she was completely unaware of her husband’s affair although everyone around her knew.  Secondly, when she found out, she did everything in her power to get him back, including more sex.

David’s behaviour is not really shocking, I suppose many men do the same.  But to compare her physical attributes to Gail’s is a bit low.

I will not dwell on Gail Bridges.  Suffice it to say that I cannot have sympathy for any woman who puts herself in a position where she could break up a family and destroy children’s lives.

Clara is not a character that invokes sympathy, but I think thousands of women could empathise with her.  The woman scorned.  Not out for revenge, but suddenly confronted with the fact that her husband does not want her anymore.  Lies, sex and rejection.  And a sudden fit of passion in more than one sense of the word that ended in the death of one, and the misery of more.


What Justice? Where?

It is my opinion that the justice system does not, and will never work.

Take the Stayner brothers for example.  7 year-old Steven Stayner was abducted by Kenneth Parnell, kept in captivity and sexually abused for seven years before he escaped.  The return to his family was fraught with adjustment difficulties.  The family did not receive trauma counselling.  Sadly, Steven died at the age of 24 in a bike accident.

The older brother, Cary Stayner, later landed up on death-row as a convicted serial killer.  He was sexually abused during his childhood but never told.

Kenneth Parnell was a paedophile with previous convictions and sentences.  For the Stayner kidnapping he received a seven-year sentence of which he served only five.  After his release and already quite advanced in age, he tried to buy another little boy.  For this he was sentenced 25 years to life under California’s three strikes law.  This law and not his crimes, finally removed him from society.

A stranger tale cannot be conceived but it serves to highlight some problem areas:

  • The Accused.  How is man with Kenneth Parnell’s background given seven years for the crime he committed against Steven Stayner?  He received equally light sentences for his other offenses.  It is because they only charged him with the kidnappings, never for the sexual offenses.  We must keep in mind though that some things have changed since the 70’s.
  • Defence Liars (exceptions excluded).  Who defends a man like Parnell, and why?  Okay, so the court appoints an attorney to defend the accused because every man has that right, and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  But to defend him as though you want him back on the street?  As though he is innocent?  Come on!  And if a Liar is highly paid for defending someone like Parnell, his crime is the greatest.
  • Counselling.  Would Cary Stayner have turned into a murderer had he received trauma counselling?  For something as little as an armed robbery my family had to.  It is virtually impossible to deal with trauma, to file away what had happened and to have a healthy mental outlook afterwards without it.  Apparently it was offered to the Stayner family at some point, but rejected.  Again, in the 70’s the importance of counselling was not yet understood.  Of course I do not know if Cary would have killed had he properly dealt with Steven’s disappearance but I do know that if the family had been helped to work through the loss and eventual return of Steven, they would have been better equipped to deal with their emotional losses and wounds.  Cary stated that he felt neglected during the years his parents were grieving for Steven, and this is normal in most households where parents lose a child.  In fact, the disappearance of a child is almost worse than a death because the bereavement never reaches its logical conclusion.  Cary also said that upon Steven’s return they had to share a bedroom and that he resented that.  He was jealous of all the attention and gifts that Steven received.   The child needed help.
  • Evidence.  The business of not entering into evidence ALL known facts about the defendant misleads the jury.  It is impossible for them to fully understand the accused, what drives him and what his habits are if half of the facts are inadmissible.
  • The Jury System.  It is difficult enough to have a husband and wife agree on important issues, how much harder for twelve people?  And ‘a jury of your peers’ is a laugh.  A peer is someone of a similar age, race, education and background.  Someone who can identify with you.  [Definition of Peer: one that is of equal standing with another: equal; especially: one belonging to the same societal group especially based on age, grade, or status].  It therefore stands to reason that in a shoplifting trial, real peerage would mean that the jury is made up of shoplifters.  Who knows?  Perhaps they would actually give a proper and fair verdict.  In a first-world society I believe that a judgement by a judge (????) is far more accurate.  A person with knowledge of the law and hopefully, a good insight into human behaviour.  In third-world countries unfortunately, it opens itself up to abuse like threats and bribery.

So what is the solution to the lack of justice?  I think that after examination it becomes clear that there is none.  We live in an imperfect world, populated by imperfect people who implement imperfect systems based on imperfect ideas.

Because of that we will always have those who are imprisoned innocently as well as the guilty walking free.  The only hope is if everybody, from the lowliest cop right up to the judge, and further onto the lawmaker, strives for the truth.

John 8:32  “…… and the truth shall set you free”.

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