In court on September 3, there were many hints that a Carlsbad housewife accused of murder would take the witness box in her own defense during her upcoming trial.
Julie Elizabeth Harper, now 41, is accused of killing her husband Jason, 39, in their bedroom while the children played downstairs. He died from a single gunshot through his ribcage in August of 2012.
The Harpers lived in a two-story tract home on Badger Lane in Carlsbad. At the time of their father’s death, the couple's three children were aged 8, 6, years, and 18 months.
In hearings over the past two years, defense attorney Paul Pfingst has made statements suggesting a battered-woman defense or that the shooting was not intentional; in court on September 3, his position seemed to be that Julie Harper fired the gun in self-defense.
The prosecutor continued to complain that he has not received the murder weapon yet, which he suggested is under the control of Pfingst. Watanabe asked the judge to order him to produce the weapon and judge Blaine Bowman denied that request.
John Cihak, who is the father of the defendant, was in the courtroom briefly with his attorney, attempting to refuse to testify for the prosecution. Judge Bowman informed Cihak that he was compelled to testify.
The prosecutor has suggested that a “getaway-bag” prepared by Julie Harper, stuffed with cash and passports and possibly the murder weapon, was hidden at her father’s home and then moved around by someone after she was arrested. Police searched Cihak's home on two occasions.
The defense attorney has asserted that the packed bag proves the defendant was afraid of her husband and was prepared to flee.
Julie Harper surrendered to authorities the day after her husband was found dead. She was taken into custody on August 8, 2012. The defendant posted bond and has been at liberty since September of 2013.
Defense is trying to suppress some evidence regarding the medications used by the defendant. Prosecutor Watanabe alleges that 52 prescription bottles were located in the same room where Jason Harper was found. Those medications are said to include oxycontin, hydrocodone, valium, and morphine.
Yesterday was the last hearing before jury selection is set to begin next Wednesday, September 10, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse. Prosecutor Keith Watanabe said his presentation of evidence will take one week, and the judge said he expects the entire trial will last three weeks.