Houston Chronicle

July 27, 2002, 7:48PM

Victim wanted to end marriage, source says

Husband run over by wife was 'honest' with her

By RUTH RENDON and LISA TEACHEY
Houston Chronicle

Orthodontist David Lynn Harris had previously told his dentist wife that their marriage was over and he was involved with another woman before she ran over him repeatedly with her car and killed him, a source told the Chronicle on Friday.

"I think he wrote his own death sentence," said the source close to the investigation, who asked not to be identified.

Clara Harris is free on $30,000 bail, accused of murder for running over her husband several times and parking her 2000 Mercedes-Benz on his body in a hotel parking lot Wednesday night.

State District Judge Carol Davies said Harris' bail would be revoked if she attempts to contact the other woman, who was identified during Harris' arraignment as Gail Bridges, 38. Davies also said Harris cannot go within 200 feet of Bridges' home or business.

The source told the Chronicle that David Harris, 44, basically said, "This is what I'm doing. This is where I'm going. This is who I'm with. It's over." It was not clear at what point David Harris told his wife of the situation.

"He basically thought that was it. He was being honest with her. She knew everything," according to the source.

Clara Harris, 44, who has a dental practice in Lake Jackson, had hired a Clear Lake-area private detective agency on Tuesday to do surveillance on her husband. He operated an orthodontics practice in the Clear Lake area.

Clara Harris reportedly wanted incriminating pictures of her husband to use in court and had even provided the agency with the woman's name and addresses of where the two could be found, including the high-rise Hilton Hotel at 3000 NASA Road 1, near the Johnson Space Center.

Wednesday night, David Harris and Bridges were in the hotel lobby where witnesses said a fight ensued. Clara Harris tore Bridges' shirt during the skirmish, and David Harris' 16-year-old daughter was striking him with her purse and screaming, "I hate you. I hate you. I hate you."

During a Friday hearing, prosecutor Mia Magness said that after the incident in the hotel lobby, David Harris walked Bridges, a divorced mother of three, to her vehicle. In the meantime, Clara Harris got into her silver Mercedes-Benz, then plowed the car into her husband, propelling his body 25 feet, Magness said.

Magness said Clara Harris then crossed two grassy medians and ran over her husband three more times before putting the car into reverse and backing over his body and leaving the car parked on him. Her stepdaughter was a passenger in the car.

David Harris died shortly after arrival at a nearby hospital.

A private investigator who was following David Harris videotaped the incident although the view is obstructed, a source told the Chronicle. The tape has been turned over to the Nassau Bay Police Department.

Clara Harris appeared at the Friday hearing dressed in a stylish black pants suit with her hair neatly swept back at the nape of her neck.

Defense lawyer George Parnham said he was not prepared to concede any of the facts in the charge.

"There's a lot of investigation that needs to take place," Parnham said after the proceeding. "I am not going to discount any aspect until I am thoroughly familiar with what occurred."

Another hearing is set for Aug. 23.

"She is just going to try to get her life in order," Parnham said. "We have a grieving family. The memory of the father, son and husband is still fresh in everyone's mind. All parties are going through a very difficult time. I just want to get this young man laid to rest."

Present at Friday's hearing were David Harris' father, Gerald Harris, 72, a former Pearland school administrator, and other relatives.

"I think he was there as basically a tribute to the family entity. He has great empathy for the circumstances. He is a dedicated grandfather to those children and loves his family," Parnham said.

The Harrises, who were married on Valentine's Day in 1992, had twin boys three years ago. The family lived in the upscale Polly Ranch Estates subdivision in Friendswood.

Funeral services for David Harris are at 1 p.m. today in the chapel of South Park Funeral Home & Cemetery at 1310 N. Main in Pearland.

Parnham said he had advised Clara Harris not to attend the funeral.

"The last thing we want to do is create a distraction from the last rites of David Harris," he said.

Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle