Harper Trial: Accused's Son Describes Hearing a “Thud”

Julie Harper's son testified the he didn’t see his father hit his mother – a claim the defendant has made.

A Carlsbad woman watched her son and daughter testify in court Monday as jurors consider whether she should go to prison for shooting and killing her husband.

“I really don't want to be here,” the son said at the beginning of his testimony. “I want to be in school.”

Prosecutors questioned the children about their mother, Julie Harper, who is on trial for second-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband Jason inside their home on Aug. 27, 2012.

Harper has said she shot her husband out of fear that he would kill or rape her.

Many San Diegans will recall the shooting took place inside the couple’s home while the children were in another part of the home watching television.

The defendant's son testified the he didn’t see his father hit his mother – a claim that Julie Harper has made.

“We were watching cartoons and we heard a thud,” the child recalled about the day his father was killed. “We heard a thud and we went upstairs to see what happened.”

“We tried to come in and we were told we couldn't come in,” he said.

The judge allowed jurors to see a video interview with Harper's son the day after the shooting. In the clip, the boy said he "knew when dad was angry."

The child also described a mother who kept “a huge drawer full of pill bottles” and a father who “wanted us to be good people.”

Testimony from Harper's daughter followed a similar line. She described how her mother took pills and slept a lot.

She said she refuses to call Harper her mother now.

"Julie told us that he was dead," the girl said. "When he fell off his chair, he got dead, I think."

The prosecutor asked her if looking back, does she think that's true? She said no, Harper killed her father.

Brian Harper, the victim’s younger brother, broke down in tears on the witness stand Monday as he recalled the day he learned his brother had been shot and killed.

His parents called him around 3 a.m. to check on Jason’s home.

“I passed one of those [police evidence] trucks and I knew Julie had killed my brother,” he said. “I was worried about the kids.”

He testified he never heard his brother talk or act in a violent way.

“Growing up I can’t even remember one instance where he was violent in any way,” Brian testified.

“I can’t even think of people who have relationship with their brothers of siblings where they didn’t get pushed around or anything and I can’t think of one time. Not once,” he told the court.

Brian also recalled a family dinner when he decided to leave early because he didn’t want to be around Julie. He said he had heard Julie withdrew $9,000 from his brother’s checking account using fraudulent checks.

This is the second trial for Julie Harper. Last October, a jury acquitted her on first-degree murder charges but was deadlocked on the second-degree murder and manslaughter counts.
Prosecutors decided to retry her on the lesser charges.

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