Can’t leave the country, can’t go to L.A.

Julie Harper faces trial again, accused of second-degree murder

Julie Harper
  • Julie Harper

Even though a jury acquitted her of first-degree murder at the end of a trial two weeks ago, Carlsbad housewife Julie Harper could still face the possibility of 40 years in prison if she is convicted of second-degree murder in a retrial, a prosecutor said after a hearing today, October 15.

Prosecutor Keith Watanabe said the sentence for second-degree murder is 15 years to life, and the special allegation of personal use of a firearm during the crime could add another 25-years to any sentence, upon conviction.

Harper, 41, did testify during her trial last month, and she admitted shooting her husband Jason Harper, 39, in their Carlsbad home more than two years ago. She claimed that she was the victim of verbal abuse and rapes during their ten-year marriage, and she didn’t remember actually pulling the trigger.

Today, judge Blaine K. Bowman, who heard the first trial, set April 15, 2015, as the new trial date.

Paul Pfingst argues for Julie Harper

Paul Pfingst argues for Julie Harper

During today’s hearing, private defense attorney Paul Pfingst requested the court to allow removal of an “ankle bracelet” that the defendant currently wears as a condition of bond. She has been at liberty for more than a year.

Pfingst declared that the GPS monitor costs the defendant’s family $300 to $400 per month, which is adding “stress on the family finances.” Pfingst also asked the bail amount to be reduced, to “free up some of the collateral” that could then be used “for defense expenditures” needed to prepare for the next trial.

Judge Bowman agreed to removal of the monitor, but the judge did not reduce the bail amount, which stands at $2 million.

Pfingst also asked for a change to Julie Harper’s travel restrictions; the attorney complained that the notoriety of the case causes Julie to be “recognized” and “under a microscope” here in San Diego County. But Judge Bowman denied the defendant unrestricted movement in Los Angeles County, where the parents of the deceased man now live and care for the three small children of Julie and Jason.

Judge Bowman reminded Julie Harper that there is a “stay-away order” and that she must not attempt to contact her in-laws or her children.

The judge confirmed that the defendant’s passport had been surrendered, and he spoke directly to Harper, saying, “And you are ordered not to leave the country, do you understand that?” Harper answered, “Yes, your honor.”

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More from SDReader


She put herself and her family in the position they find themselves. Her actions after she shot the "big guy" is not what a normal person would do if they shot someone in self defense. While her actions may not have risen to murder 1 it is certainly murder 2. She had a lot of choices other than to get a gun and wait until her hubby went off on her. I hope they can find a jury that has more than a combined two digit IQ.

Prosecutor Keith Watanabe told the court that the parents and brother of Jason Harper now fear Julie Harper, when he successfully argued against lifting travel restrictions on the defendant.

Yesterday's Mill had a piece on this decision to retry her. It had a quote from a female juror who claims she was a sole holdout for conviction on the first-degree charge. She stated that she thought Harper was lying in her testimony. But she admitted that she went along with the acquittal "in hopes that the others would convict on the second-degree charge." What we now know is that the jury was not going to do that, and that they ended up deadlocked on the rest of the charges.

Does this all mean the same judge will handle the second trial? That's unusual, and the way he ruled against the DA time and time again definitely showed up in the jury votes. But this time around, Pfingsto can't surprise Watanabe with her testimony, and he has the opportunity to counter her claims (or "lies" if you agree with the juror quoted yesterday.) As it stands right now, she stands a good chance of getting away with murder for sure. What a heartbreak this must be for the parents of the victim, raising their grandkids with no dad, and mom on trial for killing him. What a total mess.

She can still get 15 years to life for murder in the second degree. Watanabe will probably be more focused. New jury, new eyes and thoughts. I predict a conviction on this one.

Up that to 25 years to life as a firearm was used.

Harper was hiding things from her husband. Why was she doing this? If she knew he could become violent, why was she behaving like a child and hiding things? She hid her husband’s computer under the bed in the master bedroom. Was that to get him to come into the bedroom and confront her? To start an argument about why she was taking his computer and hiding it? So he was looking for his computer and arguing with her and then, all of the sudden, he got the urge for sex and was going to “rape” her? No, maybe he wanted to hit her. Maybe any husband would be angry with an immature wife who keeps hiding their property. She planned it out to have him wind up in the bedroom looking for the computer and where she had a loaded gun handy. That’s what I would feel as a jury member. She has a million dollar defense with Mr. Pfingst and he will have to earn every penny.

Why? The quantity of prescription drugs she was consuming at the time could help account for it, as could some other things such as her weight gain. In addition to the firearm used to kill him, she had, I recall, purchased a couple other handguns. Just like your everyday housewife who has her small arsenal of guns.

Her actions before AND after the shooting, and the odd involvement of Pfingsto are all at odds with the picture of being a domestic abuse victim that she presented. Maybe Keith will have a better time with another jury, one that looks at facts, not emotional accusations.

Ponzi - she baited him into a fight to record. She baited to escalate and justify killing the teacher/husband/father. My late husband enjoyed that kind of drama. I stopped engaging for the sake of 1 daughter.

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