Almost three decades have passed since Colleen Harris, 72, was acquitted in the shotgun murder of her second husband. On March 17, she returned to the same old marble courthouse in Placerville, California, and, dressed in a pink blazer, took her seat at the same defense table that she had sat at in her previous trial.
Harris has been charged with another shotgun slaying. Only this time it involves third husband Bob Harris, 72, who she is accused of killing in bed – just like her previous victim – with a blast to the head from a 12-gauge shotgun in the same house where she committed her previous murder.
And there’s one more similarity with her grisly 1985 homicide – Harris claims not to remember pulling the trigger, reportedly telling detectives she was “a gray fog” at the time of the murder, declaring that she would never shoot her husband.
In each case, she kills her husband in the bedroom,” El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Joe Alexander wrote in court papers earlier this month. In each case, she is going through marital difficulties. In each case, she delays reporting the crime. . . In each case she claims a loss of memory as a defense.
During the trial for the 1985 slaying of James Batten, 46, who she claimed physically abused her, an expert defense witness testified that Harris suffered from “psychogenic amnesia” after shooting him twice with a .410-bore shotgun. She allegedly placed a pistol on the bed beside his body in order to make it appear as though she acted in self-defense.
That jury eventually found Harris not guilty in 1986. In this current case jurors will hear that Harris allegedly shot third husband Bob Harris, a retired U.S. Forest Service supervisor, in January 2013 as he slept because she was devastated and angry over an affair he was having.
“You will reach only one conclusion,” prosecutor Joe Alexander told jurors in his opening statements, “that this woman shot and killed her husband, Bob Harris. She shot and killed because she loved.”
Shortly after her arraignment in January 2013, Harris’s friends told a local TV station that Harris gunned down her latest husband because he “physically and emotionally abused” her.
Her attorney David Weiner – who successfully defended her in her previous murder trial – didn’t make an opening statement at the start Harris’s latest trial. He plans on having his client testify in her own defense later in the proceedings.
“She will tell the truth,” Weiner told The Sacramento Bee. “When she tells us, you will know what happened.”
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