Lindsey's Loss

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

But he did say, "Do you believe for one moment that if Clara Harris intended to kill her husband she would have his daughter with her?"

Magness returned to her prevalent theme: "The bottom line was Lindsey tells the truth. Lindsey always tells the truth.

"Every single thing Lindsey told you has been corroborated by an eyewitness or a piece of evidence," Magness said, sealing Clara Harris's fate with her own words. "Remember, Lindsey always tells the truth."

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

The jury deliberated for just over seven hours. During that time, Lindsey had lunch in the courthouse cafeteria with her mother and stepfather, Deborah and Jim Shank. She nibbled at a chicken sandwich but had no appetite.

When the guilty verdict came in, Clara cast her eyes down at the defense table, in a pose she had struck many times. She then looked at the people who had found her guilty. She closed her eyes as her friends wept.

Across the room, Lindsey Harris was crying as deputies moved closer to Clara Harris. The woman who had slept in a mansion the night before would sleep in the Harris County jail this night, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.

The punishment phase of the trial began as Lindsey Harris took the stand to describe her life since her father's murder. The jury heard that the girl had attempted to take her own life, had given up music and cheerleading, and had little interest in her schoolwork.

Lindsey told jurors her thoughts as she watched her father dying. "I knew that he wasn't going to be okay, that I was only given 16 and a half years to spend with him," she told the jury. "I had planned to stay with Dad so long."

Contemptuously, she told of her stepmother calling David "baby" and acting like nothing had happened -- immediately after running him down.

The girl described her suicide attempts, how she had sliced her wrists more than once. At that, Clara again began to sob, the same quaking emotional outburst that had angered the judge so many times.

Finally, Lindsey Harris testified that she had not seen her half-brothers since Christmas and that she was estranged from her grandparents.

"There is a lot of money involved," she said of the multimillion-dollar fight over the estate. "They are leaving me out of everything, and they don't seem to even care anymore. I feel hurt. Somebody took my dad away from me."

In her closing arguments, Magness began to cry as she evoked the life Lindsey Harris would have had with her father.

"She cut her own flesh because she was so overwhelmed with the pain of the loss of her father. She deserved to have him there when she graduated from high school. She deserved to have him there when she walked down the aisle."

Behind her, in the spectators' section, Lindsey wept at Magness's powerful words thundering out through the prosecutor's own tears.

Lindsey would return to high school in Ohio after the trial. But there was another stop first. On the evening that Clara Harris was sentenced to 20 years in prison, the girl went to her grandparents' home for a brief reunion with them and her brothers.

The estrangement was over.

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