During a hearing today (November 5) the defense attorney for Julie Harper, convicted of second-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband, requested that her sentencing be delayed for two months.
A prosecutor has said that 42-year-old Harper will face more than 40 years in prison at her sentencing; the new date is now set for January 8. It is expected there will be “victim impact statements” during that hearing.
The Carlsbad housewife admitted during trial that she killed her 39-year-old husband, Jason Harper, in their home in 2012, while their children played downstairs. She claimed that her husband had abused her during their ten-year marriage, and at the conclusion of her first trial in September 2014, Harper was acquitted of first-degree murder. That jury deadlocked on lesser charges, and Harper was tried again in September 2015.
The couple’s three children, who were aged 8 and 6 years and 18 months when their father was killed, are reportedly in the care of Jason Harper’s parents now.
At the hearing this morning, private defense counsel Paul Pfingst successfully requested a two-month delay in sentencing for the second-degree murder conviction. In his remarks, Pfingst said that another attorney needs time to review paperwork; he seemed to suggest that a motion for a new trial would be filed.
Harper is being held in the Las Colinas women’s jail in Santee. She was at liberty on bond from September 2013 until the conclusion of her second trial last month, in October 2015; immediately upon her conviction she was taken back into custody.
Pfingst made other requests in court this morning.
Pfingst declared that Harper has not been receiving the medical care she needs for her “auto-immune issues,” and he complained that the jail nurse simply gives her a Tylenol in response to her pain symptoms. Pfingst asked the court to order jail personnel to summon a particular doctor, a rheumatologist, for Harper because “her significant underlying medical condition is causing her great distress.”
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe had alleged that Julie Harper “deteriorated” over the years of her marriage because of “abuse of her prescription opiate medications.” The prosecutor claimed that near the time of the murder, Julie Harper “was rarely seen outside of the house” and that Jason Harper was forced “to work full time and care for the kids.” Watanabe even looked over the multiple prescriptions for Julie and calculated that she was “issued 4,025 narcotic pills in 355 days” and “that comes out to 10 opiate pills per day and 1.5 sleeping pills per day.” Some of the medications the prosecutor named were OxyContin, Oxydocone, hydrocodone, Valium, and morphine.
Pfingst stated other conditions lacking at the Las Colinas facility, declaring that Harper’s sleep was unsatisfactory because mattresses there are only “a couple inches thick” and those rest on metal frames. Pfingst requested the judge order a second mattress for Harper.
Pfingst also asked the court to order jailers to allow Harper “contact visits” with her infant child. In prior hearings, Pfingst stated that Harper became pregnant through artificial insemination and gave birth to her fourth child last May; that pregnancy and birth occurred between her first trial and the beginning of her second trial, while she was out on bail.
The lead prosecutor during trial, Keith Watanabe, was not in court today. The second prosecutor for the case, Clayton Carr, represented the district attorney’s office today.
Judge Blaine Bowman, who heard both trials, declined to order a second mattress for Harper. Bowman also declined to order the jail to allow contact visits between Harper and her child, saying, “the issue of the child is not before the court.” Finally, Bowman said he would “request,” but not “order,” the jail to arrange a doctor to see Harper for her “auto-immune issues.”