Julie Harper Wraps Up Testimony in Retrial for Husband's Murder

Julie Harper admits she shot and killed her husband, Jason Harper, on Aug. 27, 2012, but has said she did it because she feared for her safety

A Carlsbad woman on retrial for murder took the stand for the third and final time Thursday following two days of detailed, graphic testimony about the alleged abuse that drove her to kill her husband.

Julie Harper admitted to shooting and killing her husband, Jason Harper, in their North County home on Aug. 27, 2012, but claims she did it in self-defense, as she feared Jason would kill or rape her.

During the deadly shooting, the couple’s children were at home in another room watching cartoons. On the stand last week, the couple’s son said he heard a “thud” as his mother killed his father. The couple’s daughter testified that when they went to check on their parents, her mother told them their father was dead.

Under oath earlier this week, Julie claimed she had suffered years of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of her husband, including allegedly being raped by Jason 30 times. She said she began to keep a journal recording the times he’d get angry or the times he allegedly attacked or raped her.

During her testimony Thursday, Julie talked about her journal once more, claiming she used the word "sex" as a code for "rape" in her writings.

After she revealed the code word, Julie was asked how she could tell, in reading her own journal, the difference between the times she was allegedly raped by her husband and the time she had consensual sex with Jason.

“I wasn’t generally writing down when it was regular sex,” she said. "I wasn't keeping track of consensual sex. It's pretty obvious that this isn't pleasant sex that's going on."

She was asked about an entry in which it seems as if she's upset because Jason had "rejected" her.

Earlier this week, amid Julie’s allegations of rape in her marriage, the prosecution argued writings in her journal included complaints from her about a lack of foreplay in her sex life.

She claimed she never reported the abuse because she was “embarrassed” and feared pressing charges against Jason would cause him to lose his job as a Carlsbad high school teacher, and thus impact the family’s finances, which were already rocky.

When Julie took the stand on Wednesday, she recounted the exact moment when she shot her husband to death after they got into an intense argument and she told him she had filed for divorce.

“I turned around and saw him coming toward me. He said, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ I told him to stop. I heard a loud noise and felt [the gun] jerk. He froze, stopped and fell forward,” she testified.

“I ran into the bathroom because I thought he would come after me. [He was] completely still – no movement. I began shaking him and felt no movement,” she continued.

Julie said she didn’t know how to tell her children their dad was dead. She didn’t want them to see his body, so she covered Jason with a blanket and other items.

She testified that after the murder, she dropped the kids off at her sister’s house, went to a local coffee shop and visited her father at his office. She told her father her husband was dead, and he told her they needed to call police and hire a lawyer.

In her self-defense stance, Julie claimed she had become so afraid of Jason that in the weeks leading up to his killing she had packed a getaway bag, put cash aside for an escape and had taken her Derringer gun out of a safe and put it under her pillow in case she needed to protect herself from him.

In her retrial testimony this week Julie also said she suffers from medical conditions, including Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Medications she had taken over the years caused side effects, she said, including weight gain.

She claimed Jason often attacked her weight and called her “fat” and “lazy,” and believed she was
faking her medical problems.

Julie was acquitted on first-degree murder charges in her first trial last October. Prosecutors sought to retry her, and she now faces second-degree murder charges in her retrial that began two weeks ago.

Over the course of her retrial, many witnesses have taken the stand, delivering emotional accounts. This has included Jason’s mother and very tearful brother, neighbors and the couple’s children.

Although Julie admits she killed her husband in self-defense, the prosecution argues that Julie added
to the couple’s tumultuous family life by frivolously spending money when the couple was experiencing financial problems.

The retrial will take a break Friday and resume next week, likely with closing arguments.

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