A woman in northern California is on trial for killing her husband, nearly 30 years after she was acquitted of killing her previous husband in the same house with the same type of gun.

Colleen Harris was acquitted of murder in the death of her husband James Batten in 1986. Harris claimed that she acted in self-defense and that she couldn’t remember killing her husband. She told the court that her husband held a gun to her head, sexually assaulted her and said he had abused one of her daughters. None of this was ever proven.

This January, prosecutors say Harris, now 72, fatally shot her husband Robert Harris in the head after she heard him making a call to a woman he had been seeing. Harris claims she doesn’t remember pulling the trigger this time around, either.

The couple divorced back in 2004 but remarried a year later. They later separated, and Robert began seeing another woman. Still, he helped his wife recover from a hip replacement surgery in 2012, and the couple attended family functions together.

Read more from the Sacramento Bee:

Despite Colleen Batten’s acquittal in the first case, prosecutors say stark similarities exist between the distant events – each resulting in a dead husband and wife claiming amnesia.

“In each case, she kills her husband in the bedroom. In each case, she uses a shotgun,” said El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Joe Alexander, arguing in court papers for introducing evidence from the earlier shooting in Colleen Harris’ current trial. “In each case, she is going through marital difficulties. In each case, she delays reporting the crime ... In each case she claims a loss of memory as a defense.”


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