Harper during first trial
Julie Elizabeth Harper, a Carlsbad housewife who became notorious for shooting her husband in their upstairs bedroom while their children played downstairs, has been granted a new chance at sentencing, by the Fourth District court of appeals in California.
The appellate court has retroactively applied a new law that went into effect January 1, 2018. That new law, passed as Senate Bill 620, and particularly section 1385, gives discretion to judges to strike a firearms enhancement at sentencing, according to the appeals court.
Julie Harper, now 45, was found guilty of second-degree murder for killing her husband Jason Harper, 39, who died August 7, 2012. She testified in her own defense, at two trials, and claimed her husband was abusive. Julie admitted firing one bullet into Jason’s torso.
The appellate court ordered that the original sentencing judge, Honorable Blaine Bowman, will again hear Julie Harper, “for the limited purpose of conducting a new sentencing hearing to exercise its discretion under section 1385 with respect to the firearm enhancements.”
That new sentencing is now set for August 22, in department 12 of San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse in Vista, before the same judge who heard both murder trials, Hon. Blaine Bowman.
At her original sentencing, Julie Harper got 15 years to life for second-degree murder, plus 25 years to life for personal use of firearm that resulted in death — a total of 40 years to life. So if the judge now puts aside the “firearms enchancement,” it could decrease Julie Harper’s time in prison by 25 years.
Jurors in the first trial acquitted Julie Harper of first-degree murder, but they did not agree on lesser charges. In a second trial, jurors found Julie Harper guilty of second-degree murder.
In their appeal, Julie Harper’s attorneys asserted that prosecution discriminated by unfairly removing four male jurors from the jury pool. (After the first trial, there was rumor that all five jurors who sympathized with Julie Harper and believed her actions were “self-defense” were male.) But the appellate court dismissed that argument, declaring that prosecution choices “were not biased.”
In the second trial, the jury was seven women and five men.
In its opinion, the appellate court did notice that judge Bowman made it clear at his original sentencing that he did not find Julie Harper credible and he found her testimony to be “self-serving and false.” Judge Bowman declared Julie Harper to be a “danger to society” when he imposed the maximum sentence of 40 years to life.