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.