Forty-one-year-old accused murderer Julie Harper was in the witness box all day yesterday, September 24.
She said she began the morning of August 7, 2012, with another argument with her husband; he was angry, she claimed, because she had hidden part of his computer, again.
“And he said, ‘I am so sick and tired of you hiding my shit.’” Harper said she eventually showed her husband, Jason Harper, 39, where she put his computer tower, under her bed.
She said their emotional confrontation continued until she ended it with a single shot from the derringer she kept in bed with her, at their home on Badger Lane in Carlsbad. She and her husband had been sleeping separately for some time.
The couple was in the master bedroom of their home while their three children were downstairs playing and watching cartoons on television. It was a little after 8 a.m.
Julie told the jury that after her husband called her a “fat pig” and “fucking bitch” — as he had many times before — he then started to pull her clothes off and she feared he was going to rape her, so she rushed to where she kept a loaded handgun, under the pillow of her bed.
“So he was coming forward at me with his arms raised at the edge of the bed,” Julie told the jury. She explained that it all happened so fast, in split seconds.
“I was holding my gun at that point, very tightly.” She said she feared that her husband, who was 6 feet 6 inches tall, would try to take the gun from her, or maybe bat it away. “So I told him, ‘Stop!’ And then, ‘Stay back!’
“And, next thing I know, I’m feeling my hand jerk and my arm move and hearing loud noise, and then he’s for a second still coming forward at me and then suddenly he froze and everything just stopped.”
Jason was found face down at the foot of her bed. He died of a single gunshot wound; the bullet had traveled through his heart and then lodged in his right front chest.
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe asked Julie if her husband ever saw the gun. She claimed that he was in a “position” to see the gun, but she didn’t know if he actually saw the gun. Watanabe asked if Jason had any reaction to the gun in her hand. Julie replied, “I don’t remember his reaction” and “I don’t know that I saw a reaction” and “I don’t remember any change.”
The prosecutor seemed to mock Julie’s characterization of her husband’s arms in the air, describing it as a “Frankenstein” pose, and then he asked the defendant to show this pose to the jury.
Julie first demonstrated in the witness box by raising her arms, and then she stepped down to show the jury by using the second prosecutor as a mannequin, and she posed his arms in the air while they were in front of the jury box.
Defense positions seem to include: Julie did not mean to pull the trigger; Julie was a victim of repeated rapes by her husband (she estimated perhaps 30 rapes over the past few years) and she feared that she would be raped again that morning; and, Jason flew into a rage after Julie told him that morning she had filed for divorce just days earlier.
Julie said of her husband: “I just believe he was a very angry and abusive man.”
Prosecution suggests that Julie was a woman who deteriorated over her ten-year marriage; that Julie was abusing prescription drugs so much in years 2011 and 2012 that she often did not leave her bed or her home and was becoming a recluse; in the days before the shooting, Julie committed fraud by going to several banks to take many thousands of dollars from her husband’s separate accounts and her children’s college funds, and she was hoarding cash.
After she shot her husband, Julie said their children came to the master bedroom and knocked at the door twice and asked about the noise, but she sent them away. Eventually she dressed and took the children to a coffee shop for pastries, Julie told the jury. She said she was trying to make the day “normal” for them.
Julie Harper was in the witness box three days this week (September 22–24). The jury has heard seven days of evidence over the past two weeks and closing arguments are expected tomorrow, Friday, September 26.