Lindsey's Loss

The wild ride of the teen who became a front-seat witness to her father's killing

"Yes," she answered. "I called her Mom. We got along very well."

Parnham had his breakthrough, small though it was. He now talked to the girl about family vacations, her own room in the mansion and how it had been designed especially for her.

Next he got Lindsey to admit that Clara Harris had once traveled to Ohio to speak to her class about dentistry. Across the room, the defendant was now smiling at the memories her lawyer was bringing back about those happy days.

Lindsey Harris lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her mom and stepdad, Debra and Jim Shank.
Courtesy of Steven Long
Lindsey Harris lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her mom and stepdad, Debra and Jim Shank.
David and Clara Harris with their twin sons
Courtesy of Steven Long
David and Clara Harris with their twin sons

"And your brothers," Parnham continued. "You love your brothers."

Clara, who had contained herself during Lindsey's testimony about the fight in the hotel lobby and the killing of David, broke down in tears at the mention of the twins.

Judge Davies exploded.

"It will not be tolerated," the judge roared. "It is not going to happen in this courtroom."

"I'll do my best," Parnham stuttered, walking over to the sobbing Clara.

"My instructions are going to your client," the judge shouted above the woman's sobs.

"She's wailing and sobbing in front of the jury," Magness chimed in. "She is fine when the jury is out of the courtroom."

Clara again took control of herself as she buried her eyes in her hands. Parnham continued, this time asking about the flirtatious ways of Gail Bridges and the fights between David and Clara.

Parnham moved on to Gail's firing, attempting to show that David was more interested in business than in saving his marriage.

"What did you hear him say?" the lawyer asked.

"We can't fire her. We've got 85 patients today," the girl answered.

"And what did Clara say?" Parnham continued.

"She's going," Lindsey answered.

Clara Harris sat with her face covered by her hands, her elbows on the hard oak table, as the girl testified that her stepmother had called her rival a "devil" and "so fake."

Lindsey said under questioning that she had warned her father that if he divorced Clara, there would be consequences he wouldn't like.

"I told him, 'You are not going to see your babies very much if she leaves,' " Lindsey said.

Again, Clara Harris began to cry at the mention of the twins, a tissue now in her hand.

"Would you say that everybody was very proud of Dr. Clara?" Parnham asked, using his favorite endearing term for the defendant.

"Yes," the girl answered.

"When Clara Harris said that she could kill David Harris and get away with it, she didn't believe she would really do it?" Parnham asked, not getting an answer.

The attorney had stumbled. Lindsey Harris was in control of the testimony. He had allowed her to relate again how immediately before the impact, she had shouted "Stop" and Clara had accelerated.

"I was saying it very loudly," Lindsey said as Parnham looked on helplessly. "She knew there was a man standing in front of the car."

After he finished with the witness, Magness asked a few brief cleanup questions. Then she uttered the magic words that ended her portion of the case.

"The state rests."

Clara Harris took the stand in her defense, relating how her husband's affair had made her feel closer to Lindsey.

"I asked her, 'What should I do?' She wasn't the best person to give me advice. She was 16. She had never been married. The only thing we had in common was that we loved David. We wanted him to come home."

Harris said she never considered that someone might be injured as she drove the Mercedes, and that she thought she had closed her eyes before the impact, not knowing it was her husband in front of the speeding vehicle.

However, prosecutor Magness would press her on cross-examination about her rage while she vandalized Bridges's SUV.

"At that time, you were angry," Magness said.

"Yes, I was," came back the answer.

"Lindsey was telling the truth when she said that you were angry," Magness probed.

"She always tells the truth," Clara said. It was a devastating response, an answer that would almost ensure that she would be convicted of murder, or at least manslaughter.

"You vandalized her car. You weren't mad?" Magness asked incredulously.

"No," she said.

"Lindsey always tells the truth, right?" Magness asked later.

"Yes," Clara answered.

Magness kept pressing Clara about her being angry, not hurt.

"You said, 'I'm going to hit him.' Remember, Lindsey always tells the truth," Magness said.

"Yes," Clara answered.

"Do you remember Lindsey saying that as you accelerated?"

"Yes, I recall Lindsey saying that," Clara answered, crying. She knew there was now little chance of recovery from the damage her testimony had done.

For final arguments, Lindsey sat in the section reserved for guests of the prosecution. Parnham spoke of the state's most devastating witness, yet was careful not to make the jury believe that he was trying to beat her up verbally. "She is a sweet girl, no question about it. Make no mistake; this is the one great tragedy of the whole case. I pray that one day healing will occur." Parnham did not attempt to refute the daughter's testimony.

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