Clara Harris was born in Columbia, South America. In her 20s, she moved to Houston where she built her own American dream. Clara became a successful dentist and even won a beauty contest. But she says her greatest achievement was marrying the love of her life, David Harris, a charming orthodontist. Clara and David launched a booming dental practice together. They had beautiful twin boys, a gorgeous mansion and what seemed like a loving 10-year marriage. But in an instant, Clara's fairy-tale life was shattered. David confessed he was having an affair with his office receptionist. Eight days later, he was dead.
First, how did Clara learn about the affair? She says that Diana, a woman who worked at the dental office, informed her, but Clara couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I thought she was trying to destroy my marriage," Clara says. She says she was still in denial when she talked to her husband afterward, but David admitted that he had been seeing his receptionist, Gail. But he insisted that he had done no more than kiss her hand, and he declared that he would do anything to save their marriage. "I said, 'Okay,'" Clara recalls. "'I want you to fire her today. I want us to go to marriage counseling. I want you to tell your parents. And I want you to tell the pastor.'"
Clara says after their discussion she went downstairs, angry and confused. David's 16-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, Lindsay, was sitting in the kitchen. "I told her, 'There is something you need to know about your dad,'" Clara remembers. "And she said, 'I know already.' … She said, 'All the girls in the office know.' She told me [David and Gail] go for lunch everyday. And so this was more news than what he had just told me."
David's answer? "That she had zero fat," Clara remembers. The next comparison was devastating. According to Clara, not only did David admit to having sex with his mistress, but the sex, he said, was a fantasy come true. He said that Gail had sex with him three times a day. Clara says that she decided that she would double that. Clara also claims to have hired a personal trainer, got a membership at a tanning salon, and planned to have her hair and nails done every day. She recalls that she put down a deposit at the plastic surgeon's office for breast augmentation and liposuction and went shopping for sexy clothes.
And in order to devote herself entirely to David, Clara made one more stunning sacrifice. "I called the office," she says, "and I told them, 'I am retiring today. You're never going to see me again. I'm going to dedicate myself to my family.'"
On the day of the meeting, Clara says David's daughter, Lindsay, decided to come along to give her stepmother emotional support. Clara hired a private investigator to listen in on David and Gail's conversation to confirm that they were ending their relationship. David's office manager also got involved—and according to Clara, she secretly followed David and called Clara when she saw that things were not going as planned. "She told me," Clara remembers, "'He's not going in the direction of the restaurant.'"
Clara says that she and Lindsay then checked his mistress's house, expecting to find David's truck in the garage, but it was not there. They then went back to the restaurant. While they were circling the parking lot hoping to find David's truck, the private investigator called Clara. She recalls that he reported that David and Gail were checking into the Hilton Hotel—the exact hotel where, 10 years earlier, David and Clara had held their wedding reception.
Clara and Lindsay drove to the hotel. "We pulled right up to the door," Clara remembers. "I wanted to find him." They went inside to check the hotel restaurant and even searched the bathrooms. Frantic, Clara says that Lindsay called her dad on the cell phone, making up a story that one of the twins was sick and that David needed to come home right away. Moments later, Clara saw a couple emerge from the elevator. It was David and Gail, and they were holding hands.
Hysterical, Clara lunged at Gail. The hotel security guard eventually pulled the two women apart and forced Clara and Lindsay to leave the hotel. In the parking lot, Clara says she realized that David must have ridden to the hotel with Gail. "All I thought in that moment was, 'I need to stop that car from taking him.'" Clara drove her Mercedes straight toward Gail's SUV. At the last moment, she says, she turned to the side to avoid hitting the car head on. "I was just expecting the car to stop right there where you park—that concrete little thing—I thought the car was going to stop there, but obviously it didn't." Instead, the car, she says, "picked up air." Clara says that Lindsay saw David turn back to stop the car. "That was David," she says. "He always thought he was such a macho man."
When Clara realized she had hit David, she says she "got out of the car like a zombie. I couldn't believe David was on the floor—I had just seen him running. I couldn't understand why he was just laying down, like nothing."
Clara: I didn't blame them because everything that they heard in that court, it was horrible. I hated the woman that they were describing. They only heard the prosecution's side. I didn't blame them. In that moment, I don't blame them. They didn't have anything in their hands to do anything else than what they did. They never heard what really happened.
Steve's computer animation allows people to see the parking lot from different angles—views that the original videotape does not show.
"We're able to then get out of the videographer's camera and gain a new perspective on the evidence and just the entirety of the scene," Steve says. Judging from the view from inside Clara's Mercedes, Steve believes Clara could not have seen David when she drove around the side of Gail's SUV.
At Clara's trial, prosecutors claimed that she had repeatedly run over her husband. But according to Steve Irwin, that is not what happened. Steve claims the tire marks from Clara's car form a 40-foot circle. If true, that means she could only have run over David's body once.
But according to court records, the jury never saw Steve Irwin's reenactment because the judge ruled it to be misleading and confusing. Now Clara is appealing her case and wants to use it as evidence in a new trial.
"From the day this event occurred, I've tried to avoid doing anything to commercialize or promote the story of my dad's tragic murder. The person who murdered my dad, unfortunately, has not exercised the same restraint.
"[Clara has appeared] in print and on television to persuade the viewers that she is actually the victim, but she is no victim. What she did was the ultimate act of selfishness, caring only about obtaining revenge and thinking not one bit about how her horrible act was going to affect me or my brothers, Brian and Bradley. Anyone who shared my ride in the car that evening, seeing my dad's face as he was about to be hit, and experiencing the horrible feel of the car bumping over his body would understand that this murderess deserves no sympathy."
"That's what gives me the energy to keep going," she says. "The reassurance to know that they love me, you know, and that they need me."
The boys now live with Clara's closest friends, Anna and Pat. Coincidentally, Anna and Pat have 6-year-old twin sons of their own.
"Brian and Bradley are both very intelligent," Anna says. "They're doing very well in school. They know that Dad is in heaven. And they ask a lot of questions. 'What is Dad doing in heaven?' 'Can he see us?' They ask about Mama, when she's coming home. They miss their mom terribly…I just hope that Clara comes home so she can raise her boys. They need her."
Clara: I want every family in the world that has been tortured with this horrible news to know the truth. They deserve it and the people that deserve it the most are my sons, Lindsay [and] my in-laws. All our friends and our family that love me so much have suffered with this news terribly. I want people to know. I want to be judged by what really happened, not by the speculations people had made. It's a terrible tragedy—something that I don't wish anybody to go through. So many women I would like to talk to about facing a situation [like this]: You should never be by yourself. You need somebody who can take care of you. Because when you're in a situation like this, you're not responsible for the actions. You cannot tell what you can do. You know, I found myself in a situation that I never thought myself capable of.