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.
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.
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.”