HOUSTON – A dentist who killed her cheating husband with a Mercedes-Benz testified that "everything seemed like a dream" when she ran him over in a hotel parking lot.
A weeping Clara Harris told jurors she was aiming at his lover's luxury sport-utility vehicle and did not mean to kill him. While trying to smash the SUV, she said, "I think I closed my eyes."
"After that, I didn't know who was driving," Harris testified Friday at her murder trial. "Everything seemed like a dream."
After the collision, she got out and looked at David Harris' battered body lying in a hotel parking lot.
"I couldn't understand what he was doing there," she said. "I had just seen him running and I didn't know how he got there. "I said, `David, David, please talk to me."'
Prosecutors say Harris, 45, intentionally ran down her husband last July after confronting him at the hotel with his lover. A medical examiner has testified the orthodontist was run over at least twice.
Clara Harris insisted the collision was an accident. She also said she had been working tirelessly to save the 10-year marriage since learning of his affair the week before, quitting her job so she could have sex with him three times a night, cook his favorite meals and schedule breast enhancement surgery.
Harris, who first took the stand in her own defense Wednesday, was emotional but composed as she recounted the evening she caught her husband and his receptionist Gail Bridges at the suburban hotel.
She brawled with Bridges in the lobby, then returned to her car. Her teenage stepdaughter was a passenger.
"I was in so much pain, it was a physical pain that I was feeling. I wasn't thinking anything," Harris testified. "Suddenly, I thought about smashing my car against her car and then I (picked) up speed."
Clara Harris said she saw three figures near Bridges' black Lincoln Navigator. Two dodged right, she said, but her husband moved left, toward her approaching Mercedes.
She veered around the Navigator toward a grassy median within the hotel parking lot when, she says, things got fuzzy.
She had glimpsed her husband as the silver sedan raced toward him, she said: "I saw some surprised eyes."
Clara Harris said she snapped out of her fog as her stepdaughter screamed for her to stop. That's when she got out and saw her husband lying on the pavement, blood streaming from his ears and mouth, and his eyes slightly open.
"I checked his heartbeat and pulse. Both were good, but fast," she said.
She called for an ambulance. "Everything was in slow motion. I don't know if my voice came out," she said.
Earlier, Harris testified about all she had been doing since her husband admitted the two-month-long affair.
On July 18, the day after he confessed to sleeping with Bridges, the Harrises spent an evening at a Houston airport bar going over each woman's attributes and liabilities in exacting detail, she said.
Clara Harris took notes on bar napkins, which were introduced as evidence. While Clara Harris might have had a slight edge in appearance and intelligence, he said, his adulterous lover was a better listener.
According to the napkins, David Harris also thought his wife weighed too much, worked too much and "dominated conversations without letting anyone else talk," while Bridges was "petite with the perfect fit to sleep with, holding her all night."
Clara Harris said the remark stunned her.
"I couldn't believe he could sleep holding her all night because we had never slept like that — never," Clara Harris said.
According to her notes, David Harris seemed fixated on Bridges' breast size, though he gave his wife higher marks for "much prettier hands and feet" and "prettier eyes."
"He told me, `I would love you when you get your boobs to just be around the house waiting for me,"' Clara Harris said. She testified she quit her job that week, scheduled liposuction and breast surgery, went to a tanning salon, had her hair done daily and exercised at a gym.
The questioning by defense attorney George Parnham was the first since Wednesday. The trial was suspended after Parnham buckled in a courthouse hallway at midday and was taken by ambulance to a hospital.
His associates blamed a mix of the flu and stress.
If convicted, Harris faces up to life in prison. If jurors determine she acted under the legal definition of sudden passion, they could consider a lighter sentence of two to 20 years in prison.