Harris Takes the Stand

By WBNG News

July 22, 2010 Updated Jul 29, 2009 at 6:07 PM EDT

Cal Harris takes the stand to defend himself against the charge he murdered his wife, Michele.

It is a change in defense strategy from the first trial in 2007, where Harris did not testify and was convicted.

Harris is on trial a second time in Tioga County Court because the conviction was overturned.

Action News reporter Gabe Osterout tells us what Harris has to say so far.

Cal Harris says his wife Michele was a loving mother who put the needs of their children first.

Harris is on trial accused of murdering Michele in September, 2001.

Her body has never been found.

Harris told the court he met Michele in 1987 while she was working at his brother's dealership.

He says he fell in love with her quickly and got married in 1990.

Cal testified that things were great until about 1997.

He says he was working nearly 80 hours a week and Michele was busy taking care of the children.

Then in 1999, Cal began to have an affair with a woman in Cortland that Michele found out about.

The couple tried to work through the problems, but couldn't.

Cal says in December, 2000, Michele told him that she wanted a divorce.

He was shocked, but blamed himself for the marital problems.

During testimony, Cal looked upset, and sometimes spoke very softly.

Cal then described what happened on the morning of September 12th.

He said he woke up around 6:30 like normal.

He went downstairs and noticed Michele was not asleep on the couch.

Cal checked the garage but her van was not there.

He says he thought Michele may be running late or had overslept at a friends house and was not at all concerned.

Cal says he called Michele's cell phone to see if she was on her way home.

He got no answer, and didn't leave a message.

Babysitter Barb Thayer arrived at the home and told Cal that Michele's van was at the end of the driveway with the keys in it.

Cal says, that's when he suggested they get the van and bring it back to the house.

He adds that he was more concerned about getting the kids to school on-time than anything else.

In Owego, Gabe Osterhout, WBNG-TV Action News.

Harris will return to the stand tomorrow.

The trial is taking place at the Tioga County Courthouse in Owego.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.