Jury convicts woman of murder with Mercedes

Friday, February 14, 2003

HOUSTON -- A woman who ran down her cheating husband with her Mercedes after catching him with his mistress was convicted of murder Thursday despite her tearful claim that she hit him accidentally, while in a heartsick daze.

Clara Harris, 45, could get a life sentence, or a lesser punishment if the jury concludes she acted with "sudden passion." Two jurors wept as the judge read the verdict against the mother of young twins.

Harris showed no emotion as she listened to the verdict. But she burst into sobs as the penalty phase began with her 17-year-old stepdaughter confiding on the witness stand that she had attempted suicide more than once since her father's death last July. The teenager was a passenger in the Mercedes that day.

"I'm sorry, Lindsey! I'm sorry, baby!" Harris cried, prompting the judge to admonish her to get ahold of herself. The trial will resume today.

Harris, a dentist who shared a practice with her orthodontist husband, insisted David Harris' death in a hotel parking lot was an accident. She said that she was in a daze and wanted only to damage the black Lincoln Navigator belonging to her husband's receptionist-turned-lover, Gail Bridges.

"I think I closed my eyes," Harris testified. "After that, I didn't know who was driving. Everything seemed like a dream."

Record-setting rainfalls drench S. California

LOS ANGELES -- It's feast or famine for weather in Southern California, where a long stretch of dry days ended in a burst of torrential downpours that caused mudslides, power outages, street flooding and roof collapses.

"We had six weeks without rain, and we've just made up for it," National Weather Service spokesman Bruce Rockwell said.

The storms began moving out slowly Thursday, a day after rainfall shattered records in many locations, including Mount Wilson in Pasadena, where the 7.7 inches of precipitation topped the 2001 record for the date by 4.3 inches.

Flooding concerns prompted the Palmdale School District to cancel classes Thursday.

Several motorists were rescued from floods Wednesday as rivers and flood control channels overflowed.

In Tejon Pass north of Los Angeles, a mile-long wall of mud crashed onto Interstate 5 and covered all four southbound lanes. The mud was as deep as 4 feet in some areas, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Travis Mitchell said.

Smith & Wesson shows new .50 caliber revolver

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Dirty Harry is now outgunned: Smith & Wesson has introduced its biggest handgun ever, a .50-caliber Magnum.

The five-shot revolver with an 8 1/2-inch barrel weighs about 4 1/2 pounds -- roughly a pound more than the big black .44 Magnum wielded by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies. It fires a new .50-caliber cartridge that the company said produces nearly three times the muzzle energy of the .44 -- or enough stopping power to bring down a charging bear.

--From wire reports

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