Jean S. Harris, headmistress of the Madeira School, said she drove to Westchester County Monday night to ask Dr. Herman Tarnower to kill her, a police officer testified today.
"She stated she had no intention of returning to Virginia alive," patrolman Daniel O'Sullivan told Harrison Town Court. Harris is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Tarnower, the creator of the "Scarsdale diet."
"O'Sullivan testified that when he reached Tarnower's six-acre estate Monday night, Harris was standing inside the front door and told him that Tarnower had been shot and was in his upstairs bedroom.
"Who shot him?" she was asked.
"She said, 'I shot him. I did it,' he testified at a preliminary hearing that ended with Town Justice Harvey Fried ordering Harris held for a grand jury investigation.
"After Harris told police officers the gun used to shoot Tarnower was in her car, O'Sullivan testified, "Mrs. Harris stated she had driven up from Virginia with the weapon with the intention of having Dr. Tarnower kill her."
O'Sullivan added: "Mrs. Harris stated she had left notes in her home in Virginia stating what actions she intended to take in New York. She further stated she had no intention of returning to Virginia alive."
Harris sat silent between two of her attorneys as the patrolman related her first statements to police on the night 69-year-old Tarnower, whom she had known 14 years, was shot four times.
According to O'Sullivan, Harris said that she fought with Tarnower in his bedroom and the doctor pushed her away saying:
"Get out of here. You're crazy."
Harris was asked who pulled the trigger, O'Sullivan said, and "she stated she didn't know."
The statement came after her initial claim that she had shot the doctor, the witness testified.
Joel Aurnou, one of Harris' attorneys, told the court he had reason to believe that the doctor may have made a "dying declaration" that would exonerate Harris, but he was unable to produce a witness who had heard Tarnower speak after being shot.
Patrolman Brian McKenna, the first police officer who reached the bedroom, testified Tarnower said nothing.
Suzanne Van Der Vreken, the housekeeper who lived with Tarnower and is credited in "The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet" with many of the diet book's recipes, said she heard a shot and went to the bedroom.
"He was alive," she testified.
"Did he say anything?" Justice Fried asked.
"He couldn't," she replied.
Her husband, Henry, testified that the doctor vainly attempted to speak before dying.
Harris declined to speak at the hearing, and her lawyers offered no explanation of why she might have wanted Tarnower to end her life.
"That will come out at the trial," Aurnou said.
The trim blond headmistress is said by friends to have wanted to marry Tarnower and to have been angered when he began dating a younger woman, Lynne Tryforos, who worked as a physician's assistant in the medical center Tarnower founded.
Louis Roh, deputy medical examiner of Westchester County, told the court Tarnower was shot four times, including once in the back of his right shoulder near his spine. It was possible, he said in answer to a question, that this shot could have hit the doctor as he bent forward.
"This apparently incriminating wound . . . was not necessarily a shot in the back," B. Anthony Morosco, one of Harris' attorneys, argued.
Her lawyers said Fairfax County, Va., police have searched Harris' house on the Madeira campus in Greenway for the notes of her intentions she allegedly left behind. The police took 16 bags of her possessions from the house, the lawyers said.
Harris wrote a letter to Tarnower last Monday morning, hours before deciding to drive to Harrison to see him.
Scarsdale postmaster Samuel Morrison said a bulky, certified letter in an envelope handmarked "Personal" and engraved "Madeira School, Office of the Headmistress" arrived at the Scarsdale post office Wednesday.
It was addressed to Tarnower's office at the Scarsdale Medical Center.
According to postal regulations anything anyone puts in the mail remains his or her property until it is delivered. Harris' lawyers presented an affidavit from her requesting the letter and, on the advice of his superiors, Morrison gave it to them.
Her lawyers declined to discuss the letter's contents.