5:15 a.m., Aug. 24
Wife will go to trial for murder
Judge noticed the husband was shot from behind
A judge said the behavior of a Carlsbad housewife immediately after her husband was shot tended to show consciousness of guilt, rather than justifiable homicide. Judge Robert Kearney also noticed that the deceased was shot from behind, at the end of a hearing yesterday in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.
Defendant Julie Elizabeth Harper, 39, was ordered to stand trial for murder in the death of her husband, Jason Harper, 39. The deceased man was a math teacher and occasional volleyball coach at Carlsbad High School, and was found dead from a single gunshot wound last summer, August 7, 2012.
Privately retained defense attorney Paul Pfingst suggested that Julie Harper was fearful of her husband, and he said their children confirmed to investigators that the couple had loud arguments. Julie Harper had recently filed paperwork for a divorce.
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe brought evidence showing that immediately after the shooting, Julie Harper put their three children into her minivan and went around the neighborhood trying to find someone who would take in her kids for a “playday.” At least two neighborhood women declined. Julie then went to Knuckleheads Gym and PlayWerx, places where children can play while parents supervise. After 1 p.m. Julie took her children to her sister’s home near La Jolla; this sister testified it was an unpleasant surprise when Julie quickly left for an “errand” and did not return until almost 10 p.m. At that time Julie came with her father and picked up the children and drove to downtown San Diego to meet with a criminal defense attorney.
The alleged murder weapon has not been found, according to prosecutor Watanabe.
Police found the husband’s body after attorney Paul Pfingst phoned and told them to do a “welfare check” at the home on Badger Lane in Carlsbad. That was after 11 p.m., the same day of the shooting.
Julie Harper’s father testified that Julie and her three children stayed with him at his home in Scripps Ranch the night of August 7, 2012. The father, John Cihak, said when police came to his door several times he did not answer because he “didn’t want to.” John Cihak said he was awaiting instructions from the attorney who was “handling Julie’s problem.” Julie surrendered to police about 3 p.m. the day after the shooting, on August 8, at her father’s home.
Testimony suggested that Jason Harper and his extended family believed his wife Julie was addicted to pain medication, and that she made unauthorized purchases which her husband was trying to prevent.
Julie Harper pleads not guilty to murder, and personal use of a handgun, for which she could get 50-years-to-life in prison. Julie Harper is held in lieu of $2 million bail, and is next due in court in February.