Death by Mercedes-Benz: The Story of David and Clara Harris of Texas
When David Harris wed Columbia-born beauty queen Clara Suarez in a Valentine’s Day 1992 ceremony becoming of royalty at the Nassau Bay Hilton Hotel, he had no way of knowing his loving bride would end his life here some ten years later.
Dr. & Dr. Harris
Clara and husband David were both respected dental practitioners in Houston with their shared office in the shadow of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Clara had a lucrative practice as a dentist, while David’s specialty was orthodontia.
In short time, the Harrises were showing signs of success with a half million dollar home (mid-1990s) and high-dollar import vehicles.
Clara was helping David raise his daughter from a previous marriage. Although Clara loved Lindsey like her own, she was desperate to be a mother instead of just a stepmother. Clara struggled to get pregnant but, after undergoing fertility treatments, she gave birth to twin boys, Brian and Bradley in 1998.
It seemed that life was perfect and complete for the Harrises. What more could anyone want?
David apparently wanted another woman.
She's Not Just the Receptionist
David Harris’ primary office was in Clear Lake, while he worked from the office shared with Clara in Lake Jackson only two days each week.
At the Clear Lake office, he employed a married woman by the name of Gail Bridges as his receptionist. Before long, however, she and David began having an affair. As a result, David began spending more time away from home and longer hours at his office, as well as spending large amounts of money as he lavished gifts on his mistress along with paying for lavish hotel rooms for their couplings.
Truth be told, it wasn’t David’s first affair. He openly flirted with women everywhere he went, even showing his wife notes scribbled by waitresses at Hooter’s. When they were together, Gail felt special nonetheless.
Although his Clear Lake staff, and even some at the Lake Jackson office, were aware of David’s infidelity, Clara seemingly had no idea.
That would change sometime in June 2002, and Clara hired the services of Blue Moon Investigations. They entered into a contract for services with Clara, which outline standard provisions of any decent agency; one of those provisions being, essentially, the client was not to interfere with the detectives’ work. Clients were advised to let the investigators do the work and simply wait for the report upon completion.
And so Clara, heartbroken and dreading confirmation of suspicions, tried to carry on with business as usual.
She Saw Red Then She Gassed It
Blue Moon investigators would make a very deadly mistake when it came to their client Clara Harris. When the anxious wife called their offices on July 24, 2002, for an update, they told her they had a detective watching David and Gail, whom were currently checked-in at the Nassau Bay Hilton Hotel.
Enraged, Clara ordered her teenage stepdaughter into her Mercedes-Benz and headed for the hotel; the very same hotel in which she and David had promised to love one another only ten short years ago.
When she arrived, Clara found Gail’s Lincoln Navigator parked in the hotel’s parking garage and she set about vandalizing the car by bending windshield wipers and keying the paint. Then she went inside looking for David. Her behavior was erratic and her speech loud and angry as she demanded to know which room her husband and his mistress were. Hotel security was called and Clara was escorted from the building and told to leave the premises.
Clara had no such intention.
Clara returned to her car to wait. Sitting in her car with only a teen for company, Clara raged against the indecency of it all as only a woman who has been on cheated on by her husband can understand. She cried. She screamed. The longer she sat in the parking lot, staring at the hotel where she knew her husband was making love to his mistress, the greater her rage became.
Finally David and Gail exited the hotel, obviously unaware of his wife’s presence or even the scene she had created in the hotel earlier. As the naughty couple approached Gail’s car, the Blue Moon detective tasked with capturing the marital indiscretions of David was shocked as he witnessed, through the lens of his video camera, Clara behind the wheel of her Mercedes-Benz, speed toward the other woman’s car in a direct path toward the husband.
The investigator's camera was rolling as Clara's car made contact with David’s body and he was tossed into the air. When he landed, it was approximately 30 feet from where seconds before he had been standing.
The worst was yet to come, however. Well aware she had run over her husband, Clara circled around, crossing two grassy medians according to witnesses, and ran over David’s un-moving body; then circled around to run over him again. A total of three times, Clara ran the two ton car over her husband. Gail Bridges stood watching, too stunned to move.
All the while, Lindsey sat screaming at her stepmother from the Mercedes’ passenger side; begging Clara to stop. When it was over, the young girl was traumatized and frightened for her own life. She'd never seen her stepmother behave this way before. She couldn't fully grasp everything that was happening.
David was declared dead at 9:48 p.m. that evening. Clara was arrested for murder.
Murder? It's Debatable
When the story about the scorned woman who used her Mercedes to extract revenge on her cheating husband made national headlines, Americans suddenly found themselves embroiled in a debate: was it really murder?
Some argued yes, it was murder, even first degree murder and warranted the death penalty. On the other side of the aisle, with a majority made up of women - especially those whose husbands or exes had cheated on them, insisted it was a crime of passion and David got what he deserved. Mistresses everywhere were warned to take note: next time it could be them.
A Harris County, Texas, jury would have the official and final say. On February 14, 2003, which ironically would have been David and Clara’s eleventh anniversary, the jury found her guilty of second degree murder.
Clara Harris was sentenced to twenty years behind bars. She first became eligible for parole in 2013 but her request was denied. She was eligible again in 2017 but her request has been denied.
Lindsey Harris, along with her mother (David’s first wife), quickly filed suit against Clara Harris in hopes of claiming David’s insurance proceeds and inheriting his portion of the estate. During hearings on the matter, Lindsey Harris testified she was severely traumatized from her stepmother’s actions. Only sixteen at the time she witnessed her father's traumatic death, Lindsey stated she had since attempted suicide on at least four occasions.
Although David’s parents and brother had testified during the sentencing phase of the trial they had forgiven Clara for murdering their son and brother, they too filed suit against the estate; including Brian and Bradley as Petitioners in their claim.
In the end, Galveston County Probate Judge Gladys Burwell ruled David’s three children would receive almost $2 million each while Clara was allowed to retain roughly $1.2 million in assets. This was said to be the equivelant of David’s half of the estate plus a little over 50 percent of Clara’s half. Friends and family of David Harris publicly criticized the ruling.
Clara and David’s twin sons continue to live Texas with David’s parents, Gerald and Mildred Harris. It’s been reported they regularly visit their mother at the Mountain View women’s prison in Gatesville, Texas.
In the Media
© 2016 Kim Bryan