Michele Harris went missing on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001, at the age of 35, and hasn't been seen since. Her empty minivan, with her keys still in the ignition, was found at the end of her and her estranged husband's long driveway, but the mother of four had disappeared without a trace, reports the AP. Court papers show that her husband, Calvin Harris, whose family runs car dealerships, didn't want to share half his wealth in their divorce, but in spite of the possible motive he has survived three trials: one guilty verdict was overturned because of court errors, another was set aside when a witness belatedly came forward, and the third trial ended in a hung jury. Defense attorneys now hope that new evidence will help him survive a fourth trial that begins Monday.
The alternate theory revolves around two other potential suspects and charred items, including a bra strap and fabric matching Michele Harris' waitress uniform that were found this past January in a burn pit 7 miles from the home, reports the Press & Sun-Bulletin. "Juries tend to arrange evidence in the form of a story, and until now, there hasn't been a compelling alternate story," says a law professor at Cornell University Law School. "Whichever story is most compelling should prevail." Meanwhile, a defense attorney says it's like the NFL's Giants and Cowboys playing twice in one season with different results. "How's it going to play out this time? Well, we'll see." Such a drawn-out case is not unprecedented; Curtis Flowers in Mississippi was tried six times and ultimately sentenced to death for killing four people 14 years earlier. (Two brothers were sentenced to die 25 years and 600 miles apart.)