Shreveport native to be released from Arkansas prison 34 years after killing abusive husband


LITTLE ROCK, Ar. (KTAL/KMSS) – On Friday morning Shreveport native Willie Mae Harris will regain her freedom for the first time in 34 years.

She’ll be released from the Wrightsville Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction. She’ll walk out a free woman to a daughter, Silvia, who has been fighting for her mother’s freedom for nearly three decades.

Harris, who is now 72-year-old and blind, was born in Minden, Louisiana. She lived her teen and early adult life in Shreveport. In 1985, she was sentenced to life in prison for killing her husband Clyde Harris in Bradley, Arkansas.

Harris has maintained her innocence for 34 years and claims she fired a gun in self-defense after Clyde had tried to rape her. Court records show Willie Mae’s marriage had a history of domestic violence at Clyde’s hands.

She was offered a plea deal to admit guilt and be sentenced to 20 years in prison. As part of the plea, according to Harris, she’d be out of prison in 13 years for good behavior. Willie Mae turned down the deal. Silvia says her mother would never admit to a crime she did not commit.

KARK’s Haylee Brooks caught up with Silvia Harris Wilkens in advance of the big day to see how her mother was holding up, knowing a life-changing day awaits.

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