The defense in the Jean Harris trial continued today with two Madeira School faculty members testifying that Harris, the week of the murder, was fatigued and depressed.
Alden Hathaway, an Episcopal minister who teaches religion at the McLean, Va., school, took the stand in clerical collar and natty suit to tell the jury that Harris, the Friday before she is accused of murdering Dr. Herman Tarnower, had a discussion with him in which she expressed her "concerns and frustrations" as headmistress.
"I cannot recall her specific words," said Hathaway, a well-spoken white-haired man. "But the general impression she gave was that the expectations, especially of all [Madeira School] board, were of her being all things to all people."
Harris, according to Hathaway, felt the problems of the school "very much on her shoulders" and also "felt very much alone in that." She also told him she had some fears of living up to her own demands. "She expressed a concern that she was not being the headmistress she wanted to be."
Another faculty member, Jean Gisriel, the dean of students, testified that the Friday afternoon before the shooting, Harris was clearly depressed.
"She was leaning over in a chair, just like she had a stomach ache . . . she said, 'I have to stay near a john, I don't feel good at all.' I thought I should leave, but she said, 'No, Jean, don't go, please stay with me. I'm so very depressed.' I stayed for about an hour but I did all the talking."
Harris, the defense witness added, was also depressed the day of the shooting, March 10, and said so. The two were at a meeting between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. but, Gisriel said, Harris was clearly distracted.
" . . . she was not seeing me, not hearing what I was saying," Gisriel said. Later, she continued, Harris said as much, excusing herself and going home.
"She said, 'I can't bear anything else, Jean, and I'm so desperately tired, I'm going home.'"
Former headmistress of Madeira, Harris has been on trial over two months, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of her lover in the bedroom of his Westchester County home.
Today, as the defense went into the second week of argument, it once again tried to establish the case that Harris, before the shooting, was a "suicidally depressed" woman who went to her lover's home to commit suicide not homicide, and that the pressures which "triggered" the event had to do not with the love triangle in which she was involved but with professional pressures at the school.
The defense also argued that the police, in carrying out their investigation, had acted improperly, from contamination of the scene to collection of evidence.
Making that point was James Chapman, head of the forensic laboratory at Corning Community College, who took the stand for a second time today.
He enummerated a number of police errors, at one point saying the Harrison, N.Y., police force "violated probably their most primary purpose -- the use of common sense -- and if that did occur, it in itself was criminal."
Assistant District Attorney George Bolen angrily had that final phrase stricken from the record. And in his lengthy cross-examination he did his best to undercut credibility of the witness.
"What was the last course you had in physics? Histology [the study of tissues]? Serology [the study of serums]? Chemistry?" he asked.
The witness admitted he had taken none.
"You wouldn't consider yourself to be a forensic scientist would you?" asked Bolen.
"No," the witness said.