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Yay! Got the cash and pills

Julie Harper lawyer Paul Pfingst says money needed to pay experts

Pharmaceutical bottles found in Julie Harper's leopard-print bag
  • Pharmaceutical bottles found in Julie Harper's leopard-print bag

Paul Pfingst, defense attorney for accused murderer Julie Harper, successfully got 12 items of evidence released from the district attorney during a court hearing yesterday, April 13.

Julie Harper, Paul Pfingst

Julie Harper, Paul Pfingst

This included $30,000 in cash, some of which was found in a reputed “get-away bag” but most of which was located in a safe, according to prosecutor Keith Watanabe.

Pfingst claimed that cash is needed to hire experts who will testify at the murder retrial, now scheduled for September.

Prosecutor Watanabe argued against release of all 19 items. Pfingst complained that Watanabe had a “prehensile grip” on items not actually needed for evidence, and Pfingst asserted that photos of the confiscated cash could suffice.

The Carlsbad home where Julie Harper shot her husband

The Carlsbad home where Julie Harper shot her husband

Watanabe protested, “We dispute that she has a legal right to these items of evidence, pre-trial.” He also claimed there was dispute over who owned certain items: for example, the estate of Jason Harper or other interested individuals.

Judge Blaine Bowman ordered release of certain bank records, computers, and a quantity of prescription drugs. A leopard-print Ralph Lauren bag that was found in the master bedroom near Jason Harper’s body, reportedly containing Dramamine, valium, sleeping pills, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and Percocet, was ordered released.

The prosecutor has stated that he wants the next jury to know about Julie Harper’s alleged drug problems; that evidence was mostly suppressed in the first trial. Watanabe stated that Bowman will rule on that request in August.

Some of the items not released had been taken from Jason Harper’s classroom, where he taught at Carlsbad High School; these included bank records and a computer.

Julie Harper, who is said to be pregnant, was not present at the hearing yesterday.

Judge Bowman commented, “I expect a much different trial the second go-around.” He said that he expected the prosecution to have carefully scrutinized Julie Harper’s testimony from the first trial, and “We are going to have more expert witnesses.”

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Watanabe just gets owned by Pfingst at every turn in this case, doesn't he?

Has Watanabe ever obtained a guilty verdict from a jury at a homicide trial for which the defendant was not represented by a public defender?

Watanabe has been hamstrung by this judge from get-go. He's a very effective advocate for we "the people", and the rulings by this judge, who it appears will handle the retrial, are hard to grasp. Just keep in mind that Pfingsto had done things that made him look suspiciously like an accessory to the crime, not just an attorney.

It’s been a while since I last looked at this forum, and it’s surprising that some people still think of the charge against Julie Harper as drug abuse rather than murder. Let’s get real; the early mug shots of an overweight and disheveled woman disposed many in the public to immediately declare her guilty. But the jury in the first trial rightly had enough reasonable doubt about her guilt to acquit. After all, the only evidence against her was circumstantial. The reasonable doubt was heightened by the tape recording of Jason Harper violently screaming obscenities at his wife. It showed, at the very least, that the initial attempt to paint him as a “gentle giant” was ridiculous. Instead, it strongly suggested dangerous rages that any wife would naturally try to defend herself against. Then there’s the issue that emerges in comments about a supposedly biased judge. It must be common for people who have decided from afar how a trial should come out to believe the judge will favor the other side. That’s probably what the defendant felt too. But Judge Bowman was a career prosecutor before he became a judge. He worked as a deputy district attorney under both Pfingst and Dumanis. According to Ed Miller, Dumanis and the rest of that gang, all of Pfingst’s employees hated him and that was one big reason why Dumanis was able to win her election against him. This hardly suggests Bowman would “hamstring” prosecutor Watanabe in the Julie Harper case. Having been one himself, the judge might even be inclined to grease the wheels for a prosecutor. That may in fact have happened recently, when the judge refused to sanction or reprimand Watanabe for disclosing in his most recent (March) motion Harper’s pregnancy. What’s especially troubling about the release is the disclosure to the public of doctor/patient privileged information not only about the pregnancy but about its having resulted from in vitro fertilization. The judge had ordered both sides not to disclose either fact outside of chambers or a court hearing. But Watanabe put it front and center in the March motion, thus allowing the press to again run with an issue that inflames the public before what to make of it is rationally deliberated in the courtroom setting. Meanwhile, we’ve been treated to Watanabe’s wild guess that it is manipulation of the court. Given that the judge has now looked the other way this first time, Watanabe, if it’s to his advantage, will likely spill further forbidden beans he can spin, as this case goes forward. It rather looks like the only place he thinks he can win on a second try is in the press, hardly the best venue for detecting guilt or innocence.

Comments to the U-T' story today about Julie Harper's in vitro fertilization focus again on the "evil" defense attorney. Pfingst is doing what defense attorneys in our legal system are supposed to do. Prosecutors would like nothing so much as to walk into court, point the finger at the person "they claim" is guilty and have the jury rubber stamp it. But what prosecutors claim is often mixed up with career ambitions. How nice to be able to tell the world that I deserve a promotion because I sent some person who looks "deteriorated" in photos off to the big house for the rest of her life. But a good defense attorney won't let crap like that happen. So far, in the first trial, the defense blew away the the notion that the 6' ft 8" inch Jason Harper was a "gentle giant" with tape recordings of him raging at his wife like a madman. So now, what some people think is that Julie Harper's desire to have a child after her first three children were taken from her is evidence that she murdered her husband rather than defended herself from him. If, in the next trial, Pfingst argues that her desire to have another child is hardly evidence that she murdered anybody, he's is not only doing his job, he's right.

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