Clara Harris, the Friendswood dentist who murdered her husband with a Mercedes-Benz sedan after finding him with his lover at a Nassau Bay hotel, will soon be released from prison.
A parole panel Friday approved Harris’ release pending successful completion of certain prison programs and activities, Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles officials announced this week. The board did not elaborate about the programs.
The board cited “institutional adjustment” as a reason Harris was being released.
Harris, 59, won’t actually be released from custody until she finishes the programs, which takes about six months, said Jason Clark, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Harris will remain on parole until her designated release date of Feb. 10, 2023, board spokesman Raymond Estrada said in a very brief prepared statement.
On Feb. 14, 2003 — the 11th anniversary of her marriage to David Harris — Clara Harris was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years in a state penitentiary. She was eligible for parole after serving 10 years.
Harris, a former Colombian beauty queen, faced up to life in prison but drew a lesser penalty because jurors found she was driven by “sudden passion” to run down her orthodontist husband while his teenage daughter, Lindsey Harris, sat horrified in the passenger seat.
By all accounts, David and Clara Harris were both successful dentists.
The couple owned a $500,000 home in Friendswood’s Polly Ranch Estates, six dental practices with yearly revenue of about $650,000, vacation homes in Texas and Colorado and had what appeared to be a solid, loving marriage. At the time of the David Harris’ death, they had toddling twin boys.
But their marriage unraveled in July 2002, when Clara Harris learned of her husband’s affair with Gail Bridges, a woman who worked as a receptionist at his Clear Lake area dental office.
Clara Harris confronted her husband. He promised to end it; she vowed to be a better wife, she testified.
But David Harris didn’t keep his promise. On July 24, 2002, Clara Harris confronted her husband and Bridges at the Nassau Bay Hilton. She found them holding hands. A nasty fight ensued. David Harris told his wife the marriage was over, and she ran him down and killed him in the hotel parking lot with a silver S-class Mercedes-Benz.
Clara Harris contended all along she never meant to kill her husband. But the testimony of stepdaughter, Lindsey Harris, then 17, hurt her most.
Lindsey Harris’ voice and hands trembled at the trial when she recalled her stepmother saying, “I’m going to hit him,” before driving the heavy German sedan over David Harris.