WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Palm Beach County jury Friday found Charles Harris not guilty of charges that he strangled his mother-in-law, Martha Dodge Gerlach, former wife of automobile heir Horace Dodge Jr.
Pathologists testified that Gerlach died accidentally in her Jupiter, Fla., condominium. They said the 72-year-old woman crawled, while intoxicated, on her bedroom floor and her neck was somehow caught in a loop of a telephone cord, which strangled her.
John Marraccini, Palm Beach County deputy medical examiner, said someone had strangled Gerlach with the cord. Harris, alone in the condominium with his wealthy mother-in-law at the time of her death, was charged with first-degree murder.