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Placerville Woman Arrested In Husband’s Death Was Acquitted Of Killing First Husband

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Collen Harris

Collen Harris

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PLACERVILLE (CBS13) – Investigators say a 70-year-old Placerville woman killed her husband and CBS13 has learned it’s not the first time she’s faced allegations of murdering her spouse.

El Dorado County sheriff’s deputies say the victim is Robert Edwin Harris, her 72-year-old husband.

An army of deputies rushed to the home on Wilderness Court on Sunday night to investigate the possible murder and arrested Colleen Harris.

At 70 years old, you wouldn’t think it by looking at her, but some might call colleen Harris a black widow.

Through sources and researching Placerville Mountain Democrat newspaper archives, CBS13 has uncovered that Harris was arrested for murdering another husband almost 30 years ago, in July 1985.

According to records, prosecutors played her 9-1-1 call in court: “I think I shot my husband. I think, I don’t know, I don’t remember. I don’t know if I even shot him.”

But proving murder in cold blood proved to be a problem for the prosecution. A jury ended up acquitting her in the death of James Batten.

When asked why, the jury foreman told the Mountain Democrat, “The net result was that we felt there was insufficient proof of intent to commit murder. There were a few things we felt that didn’t make sense.”

But the circumstances behind the two cases are eerily similar. Sources tell us both husbands were killed behind the walls of the same home with a shotgun blast.

Her attorney from her first trial appears to be representing Harris again, although he didn’t return our call for comment.

“When we seen all the police officers and we knew there was trouble, we knew someone got killed,” a neighbor said.

A law enforcement source told CBS13 the call for help came not from Harris but her attorney. The source said Harris called him after the killing.

Deputies first on the scene could see Harris in the kitchen filling a mug with water, maybe even doing the dishes.

“She came outside, spoke with us and we went inside and discovered there was a male inside and it looked like he had been shot,” Sgt. Phil Chovanec said.

Deputies say he was found in the bedroom and was shot in the upper body. Our law enforcement source says he was lying in bed.

“It’s terrible and it’s really sad,” a neighbor said. “It’s hard to even put it together really. It’s like, ‘Gosh, what in the heck happened?’”

Neighbors along the private road are shocked at the charges and certainly the circumstances surrounding them.

“It is quiet and secluded but you just never know,” one woman said. “You never know what’s going on with people.”

We tried to get Harris’ side of the story here at the El Dorado County Jail but she denied our interview request.

She’ll be arraigned as early as Tuesday in what could be a case of deja vu decades later.

Robert had been an active volunteer member of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office STAR (Sheriff’s Team of Active Retirees) program since 2007.

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