Julie Harper w defense atty Pfingst during her first trial.
The defense attorney for Julie Harper has stated that she is pregnant and her due date is mid-May, and so it would be “impractical” for her to undergo a re-trial as scheduled, according to papers filed last week in San Diego Superior Court.
Prosecutor Watanabe said Jason Harper's body was hidden under debris in the master bedroom.
Prosecutor Keith Watanabe filed papers arguing against a delay of the next trial, currently set for next month, on April 15, 2015.
Harper pleads not guilty to second-degree murder and weapons allegations; if found guilty, she could still face 40 years in prison, according to the prosecutor.
Harper, now 41, was acquitted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband Jason Harper, 39, at the end of her first trial in September 2014. A mistrial was declared when the jury could not agree on lesser charges.
According to court papers, the prosecutor is suspicious of the claim that “this was an intentional, in-vitro fertilization pregnancy”; the prosecutor claims that a “neighbor witness” reported seeing “a man in his underwear staying in the master bedroom” of the Harper home, six months ago, around the time of the first trial.
Watanabe named a man whom he said is Julie Harper’s “former lover and fiancé”; the defendant allegedly wrote the man a letter 17 days after she shot her husband and referred to him as “the love of my life,” according to Watanabe. Julie Harper admitted in her testimony during her first trial that this man has the .45 caliber handgun that was registered in her name but “mysteriously missing from the crime scene,” according to Watanabe. The prosecutor is requesting a special hearing to question this man.
“Once again, Defendant is engaging in a disturbing manipulation of our criminal justice system,” the prosecutor claimed in the moving papers he filed last week, on March 10.
Julie and Jason Harper were married for more than 10 years, and lived in a two-story tract home on Badger Lane in Carlsbad. At the time of their father’s death, August 7, 2012, their three children were aged 8, 6 years, and 18 months. Julie Harper surrendered to authorities the day after her husband was found dead; she posted bond in September of 2013 and has been at liberty since.
Julie Harper filed for divorce from her husband on August 2, 2012. During her first trial, she testified that she was afraid of her husband and that he repeatedly “raped” her.
Photo of Julie Harper at the time of her arrest
In the next trial, the prosecutor wants to assert “the deterioration of Julie Harper over the past several years” which he claims is due to “abuse of her prescription opiate medications.” The prosecutor did the math, and calculated that Julie was “issued 4,025 narcotic pills in 355 days” and “that comes out to 10 opiate pills per day and 1.5 sleeping pills per day.”
The prosecutor alleges that 52 prescription bottles were located in the same room where the deceased husband was found, and those medications included Oxycontin, Oxydocone, Hydrocodone, Valium, and Morphine. The prosecutor claims that Julie Harper “was rarely seen outside of the house” and that Jason Harper was forced “to work full time and care for the kids.”
At a court appearance
Watanabe complained of the first trial: “The People believe it was unfair of the defense to characterize Defendant as a ‘good, loving mother’ without allowing the jury to see the full extent of her narcotic use.”
The prosecutor is also asking permission to allow jurors to “pull the trigger of the derringer in the courtroom”; because “defendant testified that it was this exact firearm that she used to kill Jason Harper.”
The actual murder weapon has never been found, and so the prosecutor will supply a duplicate, he stated. (Watanabe claims that the defendant’s father, John Cihak, has a .38 caliber derringer pistol registered to him.) The prosecutor wants jurors to feel the pull of the trigger because, “Defendant claimed she did not intentionally pull the trigger…”
Judge Blaine Bowman is expected to rule on attorneys’ requests in the next hearing, set for Monday morning, March 23, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.