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Jean Harris Renews Fight For Tarnower’s Will

June 20, 1986

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) _ The attorney for Jean Harris says he will renew her bid for $220,000 left her by Dr. Herman Tarnower, this time contending she was extremely disturbed when she killed the famous diet doctor.

Lawyer Charles Goldberger said Thursday that Mrs. Harris’ emotional condition at the time made her an exception to state court rulings that a person cannot inherit money from someone he or she intentionally killed.

Mrs. Harris, 63, an inmate at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, tried before to claim the money, saying that as long as she was appealing her conviction she should be included among the heirs. But her appeals were exhausted earlier this year.

If Judge Evans Brewster agrees to consider Mrs. Harris’ claim, a new civil trial would be held to determine her state of mind during the March 10, 1980, shooting of her lover, co-author of ″The Scarsdale Diet.″

The result would have no bearing on her criminal conviction.

Mrs. Harris and her lawyer in the criminal trial, Joel Aurnou, did not use emotional disturbance as a defense, insisting instead the shooting was an accident that occurred when Tarnower tried to wrest a handgun from her. She was convicted of murder.

Her son has launched a petition campaign in an effort to win clemency for her.

Roger Sirlin, the lawyer representing the executors of the Tarnower estate in Westchester County Surrogate Court, said he was surprised by Mrs. Harris’ new legal strategy.

″I find it incongruous that he seeks clemency and wants moneys as a result of her wrong,″ said Sirlin. He said the family would fight Mrs. Harris claim to the bequest, part of an estate estimated at $5 million.

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