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Mercedes Murder Trial Goes To Jury

Italian actress Asia Argento poses on the red carpet to present the movie "Dream Rush" at the 4th edition of the Rome Film Festival, in Rome, Monday, Oct. 19, 2009. The festival runs from Oct. 15 to Oct. 23. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
AP Photo/Alessandra Taranino
Jurors will continue deliberations Thursday as the four-week trial of Clara Harris - the woman on trial for running down her husband with her Mercedes - winds down.

A prosecutor urged jurors during closing arguments to strongly consider a murder conviction for a woman who ran over her husband in a hotel parking lot after finding him with another woman.

The state says Harris, intentionally turned her Mercedes-Benz into a 4,000-pound murder weapon and hit David Harris, then swung the car around and hit him at least once more.

"At this point it is time to call her what she is, and that is a murderer," Prosecutor Mia Magness said.

Defense attorney George Parnham told the jury that it was an accident and that Harris should be acquitted.

Harris, who was born in Colombia, says the death of her 44-year-old orthodontist husband was an accident and she hit him just once.

The jury was to consider murder charges, but also was expected to be asked to consider the lesser charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

As prosecutor Mia Magness began her closing argument, she urged jurors to strongly consider murder and not to even consider the lesser charges.

"As a group, if you believe it's murder and two of you think it's a lesser offense, you do not have to compromise to accommodate them," she said.

Defense attorney George Parnham called David Harris' lover, Gail Bridges, a "homewrecker" who should share blame for what happened the evening of July 24 after Bridges and David Harris had a tryst at a hotel.

"I'm not up here to vilify the memory of David Harris ... but there were some bad choices, folks," Parnham said. "There were some bad decisions made here."

As CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports, a tawdry Texas tale of a woman scorned and a cheating husband that ended with his body under the wheels of his wife's Mercedes has all the ingredients of a paperback novel, a distraction in a world otherwise focused on war and terror.

"For heaven's sake, if a man is cheatin' on you do what every other woman in this county does: take him to the cleaners. You can make him wish he were dead, but you don't get to kill him," argued Magness.

For four weeks, a woman scorned has become the talk around the Texas water cooler, reports Cowan. Conversations about someone else's trial seem easier than talk of terror. It's a kind of madness that may be no less disturbing than impending war, but perhaps easier for some to grasp.

If convicted of murder, Clara Harris could face life in prison. However, her lawyers have indicated they would lodge a "sudden passion" argument that could reduce the sentencing guidelines to two to 20 years in prison.

A manslaughter conviction carries the same sentencing guidelines, while a criminally negligent homicide conviction would bring a sentence ranging from six months to two years in prison. Sentencing severity also could be affected if the jury decides Clara Harris used her car as a deadly weapon.

Among witnesses who took the stand during 13 days of testimony was Lindsey Harris, the victim's daughter, who was a passenger in the luxury sedan when her father was run over.

Bridges also took the stand.

The victim's mother, father and brother testified on behalf of Clara Harris, who took the stand in her own defense, telling jurors she loved her husband and did everything possible to save their marriage.

Chris Junco and Oscar Torres, who were playing tennis across the street from the hotel parking lot where it happened, also took the stand. Junco said it was like the car itself was mad at Harris, CBS News Radio.

Junco testified the two stared in disbelief as they saw Clara Harris drive over her husband's body three times.

"I wasn't sure if what I was seeing was real," Junco said as he described the parking lot mayhem on July 24. "It was weird. I don't know how to describe it. The whole scene was very mad."

Torres, the last witness to appear before closing arguments, punctuated his testimony with sounds of squealing tires and crashing metal.

"He was mauled and he was gasping for air," Torres said of David Harris.