I’m always intrigued by the fact that there are different degrees of murder and various mitigating circumstances.
Particularly interesting to me lately is the Clara Harris murder trial in Texas. Harris ran down her philandering husband, and a jury decided that she acted in “sudden passion.” This earned her 20 years in prison, but she will be eligible for parole after 10.
Needless to say, Clara Harris deserved to go to jail. You simply cannot run somebody over several times and walk away from it. There just is not a case for self-defense or anything to demonstrate this was not an act of anger.
That being said, the late David Harris was an ass. In a lot of ways, he put himself in the situation. He cheated on his wife, which is disrespectful and wrong. If he’d never gone to the hotel with his former receptionist, he would probably still be alive right now. Even worse is the fact that the hotel where his tryst took place was the same hotel where he married Clara in 1992. David Harris is definitely not the most sympathetic murder victim.
But, given David’s immature and selfish behavior, Clara Harris had a responsibility to be better than that. She has twin 4-year-old boys who will be without a father for the rest of their lives and without their mother for at least 10 years.
It’s amazing to me that Harris’ lawyer, George Parnham, tried to use the twins as leverage to get Harris probation instead of a jail sentence. “You’ve got a mother that has just not only lost her husband, albeit by her own hand, but two baby boys that are expecting Mom to come home tonight,” he said.
I hope I’m not the only one who thinks that statement in favor of probation was an absurd reach. Clara Harris should have been thinking about her kids when she was putting her Mercedes in gear. She obviously didn’t think of her twin boys or her seventeen- year-old stepdaughter who was in the passenger seat when she murdered the girl’s father.
David Harris’ murder was caught on tape by a private investigator who was following him on behalf of Clara. Mrs. Harris could have used this in a divorce to get pretty much anything she wanted. I understand the fact that she wanted to save her marriage but, in this situation, she was most likely better off without David Harris. Mrs. Harris had stated during the trial that she had scheduled breast enhancement and liposuction operations in an effort to win her husband back. Clearly, he was not worth it. As painful and traumatic as a divorce would have been, it is definitely preferable to murder and prison. Especially considering this is Texas.
Prosecutor Mia Magness told the jury, “Doing the right thing doesn’t always feel good.” It’s true. Clara Harris was a sympathetic defendant. Some jurors might have felt they may have done the same thing in her position. But the bottom line is that most philandering spouses are not murdered. Clara Harris broke the law and needs to be punished accordingly.
David and Clara Harris both had the chances to make rational, adult decisions, and both failed to do so. David could have prevented all of this by never cheating on his wife. Clara could have simply walked away from the marriage without committing murder. As is usually the case, and par for the course, the children left behind will be the ones hurt the most.
Chris Ricketts is a junior majoring in English.firstname.lastname@example.org