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

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From page A1 | January 09, 2013 | 15 Comments

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.”

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Discussion | 15 comments

  • Foamie Mouth®January 08, 2013 - 4:50 pm

    Bio: 1985, arrested on murder charge; she had no recollection. 2008, El Dorado Rose nominee. WTF? 2013, arrested and booked into the county jail on one count of murder with no bail listed.

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  • Jethro McSwiftJanuary 08, 2013 - 8:07 pm

    ". . . she was found not guilty by the jury of nine women and three men “after just a few minutes.” . . . . . . It's probably gonna take 12 women this time. Gloria . . . . Gloria Allred . . . . Calling Gloria Allred . . .

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  • Jethro McSwift©January 08, 2013 - 8:37 pm

    At least no assault hammers were used.

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  • James SmithJanuary 08, 2013 - 10:29 pm

    Wowie Zowie. You can't make this stuff up it's so crazy!

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  • T69888January 08, 2013 - 10:52 pm

    Moral of the story: Women should not be allowed guns and the El Dorado Rose Committee must run nominee criminal-record checks.

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  • Jak B QikJanuary 09, 2013 - 7:26 am

    Hmmm... Another shooting by someone with a history of mental illness? We may be on to something here. But no, let's just ban the guns.

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  • Randy ParkerJanuary 09, 2013 - 2:35 pm

    Bob Harris was a friend of mine. He was one of the kindest and gentlest and altruistic men I have ever known. I did NOT know of Colleen's earlier case. Frankly, I'm not sure it would have mattered, at least to me. There is no doubt - Colleen Harris is dealing with mental illness. Bob Harris, thank you for your friendship. I will miss you. Bob, you made our world a better place. I know of no higher compliment. Colleen, I pray for God's forgiveness on you and your actions. I also pray that both families and loved ones can somehow find peace in this horror. :*(

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  • 1036-FrankJanuary 09, 2013 - 5:23 pm

    Let us all hope the jury convicts her this time for the second murder of a second husband. I honestly can't believe how the same defense is being presented as last time, seriously? She was being abused? Again? Last time she was let off because she forgot or couldn't remember she killed her husband. This time she needs to pay for both crimes and murders with a life sentence at the minimum.

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  • Fred MillerJanuary 09, 2013 - 10:22 pm

    Hey gun lovers Ms. Harris was safe in her home with her gun...Her husband(S) were not. Hey Mt. Democrat guns make you less safe not more safe...get a grip on reality!! My Aunt was killed in a struggle with her husband over the family gun. Husband said he committed suicide.

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  • Foamie Mouth®January 10, 2013 - 7:11 am

    and turn in your cars while you're at it

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  • Randy ParkerJanuary 10, 2013 - 1:48 pm

    Apparently, Colleen Harris is taking a familiar road in her defense for murdering her husband. I understand many, perhaps most families have issues which the "outside world" may or may not be aware. Perhaps her allegations of abuse are true. Personally - if asked - I would gladly appear as a character witness for Bob at Colleen's trial. I do not believe her allegations of abuse. Period. I understand the law and I realize she is presumed innocent. SHOULD I BE PROVED WRONG IN MY JUDGEMENT I will be at the front of the line offering my apologizes to both her and to the world for what I am about to write next. For me to formally apologize - I will first expect to see all of the police reports filed by Colleen Harris of Bob's physical or emotional abuse. I also expect to see the hospital pictures and dates and times and treatments of Bob's physical abuse upon Colleen. I expect to hear from ALL of Colleen's mental health counselors regarding Bob's emotional abuse. I most especially want to hear a cogent explanation from the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department as to WHY they would allow a wife abusing guy like Bob Harris to volunteer with their department for so many years! I also want to, and expect to hear from Colleen. I want to know of ALL the options she (and presumably Bob) exhausted before Colleen made the decision to murder Bob. I recently read they had filed for divorce in 2004 and then they reconciled. Thus, I want to hear Colleen Harris testify as to WHY she would agree to reconcile with her husband after he had been (presumably) physically and emotionally abusing her. Why would anyone purposefully put themselves in a that very dangerous situation? Especially, and not to be taken lightly, when considering their ages. These were not crazed young lovers... Frankly, I believe Colleen Harris is either mentally ill or she is evil. Based on the information I've read thus far it appears Colleen believes she has ( or had ) the right to play judge, jury and executioner of those she determined deserved the death penalty. And she has exercised this option - AT LEAST TWICE. During Colleen's murder trial I also expect that she will be able to rumble up a few close friends and perhaps even some family members to support her claims of abuse. I understand love & loyalty of family. I repeat my caveat of "based only on information reported thus far" - I sincerely hope Colleen Harris receives a quick and a fair trial. I hope a jury of her peers finds her guilty of 1st degree murder and I hope Colleen Harris is sentenced to spend the rest of her life in prison. I actually hope she is NOT SENTENCED to the death penalty as I want her to live the rest of her days locked away in a jail cell of her own mind. A mind full of agony and despair and hopefully, regret. I believe her haunting memories will be her worst sentence. Thus, I hope she lives 100+ years and remains mentally cognizant and alert for all of her remaining days. And I hope she thinks of my friend, Bob Harris, every single moment from now until her final breath. There, I said it. Now everyone knows.

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netJanuary 10, 2013 - 2:37 pm

    This should be a movie...And I agree --you cant make this stuff up. WOW. I do feel bad for the husbands...but dont go pickin on the women about guns. LOL I find many people losing their memory now a days (when its in for their benefit.) Annie Oakley: You can run if you want to, but these bullets are faster than you are.

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  • Norma BennerJanuary 10, 2013 - 2:38 pm

    Well I personally know the family, Collen only got off the first time around because she USED her daughter's abuse as a defense, all along allowing the abuse to go on for years... She is a sick individual.... She got away with Murder the first time she shouldn't this time... Batten her second husband who she murdered was leaving her the day after she shot him for another woman... She only prevented this from happening... She has always been a GOLD digger and gets rid of the husband when she finally thinks she will lose not the husband but all the money... I'm appaulled at how she got away with this 28 years ago,,,, May she Rot in Prison this time... and she shouldn't get BAIL ever, she will only run or take her own life to keep from facing a jury... this time around they should have 11 men and 1 woman on the jury, she should be stopped.... She has ruined the life of her own daughter who was malested for years by Batten, instead of taking the side of her daughter and protecting her by leaving, SHE chose to stay with Batten as he had ALOT of money... Her daughter never made the choice to keep the family together, what woman stays with a man who is raping her daugther, then for years even after stay with him, then only murder him to keep him from leaving her for someone else.... Collen Batten/Harris, no matter what happens in court, GOD know the real truth about all the abuse, the lies, and the murders when you seen no other ways out.... I'm sickened to my stomache of the wichedness of this woman and the damage she has done to her daughter, my best friend for years, and now to think she thinks she can murder again and get away with it... This time around the Daughter won't be testifying as they are not in contact for years now.... I'd say you have NO DEFENSE....

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  • mike rileyJanuary 11, 2013 - 10:03 am

    I was a high school classmate of Bob and had met Colleen many times at Tahoe. On behalf of the entire Tahoe Community (and Bob was extremely well known and respected professional Forest Service supervisor), we are saddened by his demise, especially the way his life ended. He was a kind and gentle individual who was always concerned more about others than himself. His involvement in TBI and his umpiring inspired others to follow in his volunteer efforts. His legacy will remain in Tahoe for generations.

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  • Killed – Robert Edward Harris (El Dorado County, CA) | Shot in the USA: Gun Violence in 2013May 10, 2013 - 8:58 pm

    [...] http://www.mtdemocrat.com/news/deju-vu-murder-suspect-held-husband-shot-dead-sunday-same-area-as-hus... [...]

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