Wednesday, July 30, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
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Top 10 stories of 2013: 3. Harris accused of killing another husband

Harris 106

COLLEEN HARRIS appeared in court with her attorney on Sept. 16, 2013. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

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From page A9 | January 06, 2014 |

A husband found shot to death; a wife claiming amnesia. This was the scene deputies found on July 28, 1985 at one of the two homes of Colleen Batten in the 3200 block of Wilderness Way. James Batten was dead.

In a case of deju vu, this was also the scene deputies arrived to after receiving a report of a homicide on Jan. 6, 2013, at the same two houses, with Colleen Harris nee Batten having called to report her husband, Bob Harris, 72, was dead.

In the first case, Harris was found not guilty after defense attorney David Weiner showed that Harris had amnesia and could not remember her actions. Now, the same attorney is using the same defense nearly 30 years later.

A psychiatrist testified during the first 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 held a gun to her head and raped her after she presented divorce papers to him.

Weiner 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 in the Mountain Democrat. “After the psychologist testified (that) she suffered from amnesia, the prosecution was pretty much left without the ability to prove anything more than manslaughter.”

In the new case, a grand jury indictment has superseded a preliminary hearing. A readiness and settlement conference has been set for Feb. 7, with a possible April trial.

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