A Carlsbad mother sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for killing her husband has been ordered to pay restitution to cover her husband’s burial and counseling for the couple’s three children.
Last week, Julie Harper, 42, learned her fate for the murder of her husband, Jason Harper, at her lengthy sentencing hearing where she tearfully addressed the court for nearly 40 minutes.
On Friday, Superior Court of San Diego County Judge Blaine Bowman held a restitution hearing for Julie in which he ordered her to pay $10,000 in restitution to the State Victims of Crime Government Claims Board.
Tanya Sierra, a public affair officer for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, told NBC 7 that restitution money will cover funeral and burial expenses for Jason, as well as counseling for the couple’s three children, 12-year-old Jake, 10-year-old Jackie and five-year-old Josh.
The children were in the family’s North County home watching cartoons in another room on Aug. 7, 2012, when Julie shot and killed Jason inside the couple’s bedroom. At the time of their father’s murder, the kids were ages eight, six and one.
At her sentencing last week, Julie spoke about her kids, sometimes sobbing before the court and Judge Bowman.
“My children, my darling Jack, Jaqueline and Josh, Mommy wants to apologize to you for everything you’ve been through. I was trying to spare you suffering from the beginning,” Julie said.
Jason’s mother, Lina Harper, also addressed the court at Julie’s sentencing. Despite Julie’s emotional statements, Lina said the Harper children want nothing to do with Julie and just want to forget about her and the heartache she’s caused their family.
“They don’t want anything that reminds them of her,” said Lina, who has custody of the children along with her husband, Homer Harper.
The grandmother talked about how the children “fear” Julie and how they sometimes wake from nightmares that include Julie abducting them. She said the kids are sometimes on edge, alarmed by strange noises.
Lina said Jason deeply loved his children. They also adored him, Lina said, and the kids miss their father every day.
“Julie Harper is a selfish, arrogant and vile person. She threw away her children and made them orphans when she murdered their dad. She ended the life of a very good man,” said Lina, asking Judge Bowman to impose the maximum sentence for Julie.
More than three years after Jason’s slaying, Lina said the Harper children are resilient, happy kids, who are doing well in school, sports and other activities.
Gut-wrenching impact statements were also read by the prosecutor, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Ken Watanabe, at Julie’s Jan. 15 sentencing, including statements from the couple’s two eldest children, Jake and Jackie.
The statements from both children expressed anger towards Julie and extreme grief over the killing of their father.
“Julie Harper has caused much pain and misery to all the members of the Harper family. She murdered with no sense of consequence, leaving me and my siblings parentless,” Jake’s statement said, in part. “The suffering and pain we have endured, that she caused, should be answered with justice.”
The letter from Jackie talked about how the young girl refuses to refer to Julie as her mother.
“I no longer have a mother because she was so selfish and self-centered. Because you killed our dad, you are no longer “Mom.” You are Julie. I will never call you “Mom” again for what you did,” Jackie’s statement read.
“We will never feel the same, or be the same, because you killed our father. You made my brothers and me orphans,” the girl’s statement continued. “My brothers and I loved our dad so much, and you stole that from us. We were never able to say goodbye to him. You made sure of that.”
As Watanabe read the children's statements, Julie stared blankly. At one point, a tear ran down her face as she struggled to remain composed.
Julie admitted to fatally shooting Jason in their North County home, but claims she did it in self-defense, alleging she feared Jason would kill or rape her.
Julie's first trial was in the fall of 2014, and at that trial, she was acquitted on first-degree murder charges. Prosecutors sought to retry her on second-degree murder charges, and her retrial began Sept. 14, 2015. Following the retrial, a jury found her guilty of second-degree murder on Oct. 8, 2015.
Julie's retrial last year included dramatic, emotional testimony from Jason's family members and the couple's children. Julie also took the stand for three days, recounting graphic details of her relationship with Jason and the chilling moment she pulled the trigger and killed him.
Despite her claim that she killed Jason in self-defense, Judge Bowman said Julie’s story lacked credibility and called her statements on the stand “untrustworthy,” particularly how she claimed she buried the murder weapon to preserve evidence for trial.
And, while Harper asked Judge Bowman to not give her a “death in prison” sentence, the judge told Julie any sentence she received would be better than her husband's fate.
“You have to understand that your husband got a death sentence. Your husband is never coming back. Jason can’t be brought back,” Judge Bowman said. “Tragically, your selfish actions have left your children without a mother, without a father.”