Deja vu murder suspect held: Husband shot dead Sunday in same area as husband killed in 1985

By From page A1 | January 09, 2013

Wilderness Way Homicide

El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a homicide on Jan. 6.

Upon arrival at a residence in the 3200 block of Wilderness Way, deputies met with Colleen Ann Harris, 70, according to a sheriff’s spokesman. They entered the house and found a deceased male, later identified as 72-year-old Robert Edward Harris, Colleen’s spouse. He appeared to have sustained a fatal gunshot wound.

An investigation was launched by homicide detectives, crime scene investigators and coroner detectives, which is ongoing.

Harris, a 2008 El Dorado County Rose candidate, was arrested and booked into the county jail on one count of murder with no bail listed.

Robert Harris, a press release stated, was an active volunteer with the sheriff’s STAR program since 1997.

According to a listing in the April 28, 2005 edition of the Mountain Democrat, Colleen and Robert had filed for divorce on March 29 of the same year.

This is not the first time Harris has been arrested on a murder charge. As reported in the Mountain Democrat on July 31, 1985, on July 28, 1985 she was arrested in connection with the death of her second husband, James Roger Batten, then 47. Harris, then 43 and known as Colleen Batten, called dispatch to inform them that her husband was dead. Upon arrival, deputies found James Batten dead, with two gunshot wounds in his side. An article on Feb. 7, 1986, reported that Harris first shot Batten in the side, then moved into a better position and shot him in the heart.

Harris and Batten had been living in separate houses both on Wilderness Way. El Dorado County Sheriff’s Lt. Bill Wilson speculated that it was due to a family dispute. Harris had been kicked out of the house she shared with Batten.

An article on Aug. 2, 1985, revealed that Harris said she killed Batten after he threatened to kill her and laughed about raping Harris’ daughter from a previous marriage. Harris had filed a report in September 1979 that Batten had been sexually assaulting Harris’ daughter between the ages of 12 and 21. After Batten’s arrest, however, Harris requested the charges be dropped, as she and her daughter wanted to keep the family together, according to a Feb. 5, 1986, article.

Harris testified during her trial that Batten was a violent man, saying she wanted him to seek psychological help. They were in the beginnings of a divorce when he was killed.

A psychiatrist had testified during the trial that she suffered from limited amnesia, as she could not actually remember shooting Batten. She had gaps in her memory, she said, of when Batten had held a gun to her head and raped her after she presented divorce papers to him.

David Weiner, Harris’ attorney in both the 1985 case and the current case, said that she was found not guilty by the jury of nine women and three men “after just a few minutes.”

“Because she had no recollection, the prosecution could not even cross-examine her on what her thoughts were, or what she did, and so forth, so they had a real problem establishing a mental state of mind, which is malice aforethought,” Weiner was quoted saying in a June 30, 2003 article. “After the psychologist testified (that) she suffered from amnesia, the prosecution was pretty much left without the ability to prove anything more than manslaughter.”

Cole Mayer

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