Former DA Pfingst and accused murderer Julie Harper

Prosecutor accused attorney of removing items of evidence

Julie Harper and Paul Pfingst
  • Julie Harper and Paul Pfingst

Deputy district attorney Keith Watanabe said that he intends to call a former DA of San Diego County, Paul Pfingst, as a witness in an upcoming murder trial.

Pfingst, now a private criminal defense attorney, is currently representing Julie Elizabeth Harper, whom the prosecutor has charged with murder. Harper is accused of shooting her husband, 39-year-old Jason Harper, in August of 2012.

Julie Harper

Julie Harper

She allegedly shot him in the back while in the master bedroom of their Carlsbad home — while their children were watching TV downstairs.

The 40-year-old housewife is currently free on bond.

Watanabe has suggested that it will create a “conflict of interest” if the defender is called as a witness in the murder case and has asked a superior court judge to rule on the matter.

“I’m not trying to have him removed, I hope that’s clear,” Watanabe said in court today, November 22. The prosecutor did file papers last September, suggesting that Pfingst had handled evidence in the murder case — particularly a “get-away-bag” — and that Pfingst removed items such as cash from the bag.

Pfingst stated that his “investigator” took photographs of items that were removed from the bag; these items included $40,000 cash and bonds and bank certificates and other “instruments,” Pfingst told a judge today.

Both Watanabe and Pfingst agreed that the Attorney General’s Office of the State of California is not currently investigating Pfingst and that the AG’s office does not currently have an investigator assigned to look into Pfingst’s alleged actions.

“There is no investigation,” Paul Pfingst asserted.

Judge Blaine Bowman is expected to rule on the matter January 3, 2014, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.

Comments

A reader made comment on this article (elsewhere), to dispute whether or not Jason Harper was shot in the back. That person, identified as Name Withheld, claimed that Jason Harper was “shot in the side,” and quoted part of one sentence from the preliminary hearing transcript. Anyone who has access to the full transcript of the two-day hearing can go to the last pages, and find where Honorable Judge Robert Kearney stated, on the record, that Jason Harper was shot from behind – and that his wife was the only other person in the room at the time.

"Shot from behind" appears to be the correct term, based on that photo.

What makes this more gruesome is that (according to previous articles) Julie Harper, after shooting Jason, covered him up with blankets, clothes and other things in the bedroom and then rushed the kids out of the house to a coffee shop. No one was told about the shooting and no medical help was summoned. Based on the location of the wound, it's very likely that Jason was still alive at the time that Julie rushed the kids out of the house, and that he could have lived if he'd received prompt medical attention.

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