Prosecutor Watanabe, Julie Harper (making demonstration), Judge Bowman
  • Prosecutor Watanabe, Julie Harper (making demonstration), Judge Bowman
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“Defendant deserves each and every day of her 40 years-to-life sentence,” prosecutor Keith Watanabe stated in papers he filed last week, arguing that a reduction of Julie Harper’s sentence “is not in the interest of justice.”

Julie Harper shot and killed her husband, Jason Harper, in the bedroom of their Carlsbad home in August of 2012. Their three young children were downstairs at the time. Currently, the eldest Harper boy is a freshman in high school, the girl is 12 years old, and the youngest boy is 7.

An attorney for Julie Harper, now 45, has requested that judge Blaine Bowman remove the penalty for the “use of gun allegation” which added 25 years to her sentence.

California governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 620 on October 11, 2017; this new law gives courts discretion to set aside “firearms enhancements;” the change in law went into effect on January 1, 2018.

In his moving papers, the prosecutor revealed that there was no objection from the California attorney general’s office when Julie Harper appealed to have the new 2018 law applied retroactively to her sentence. “As would be expected when there is no objection from the prosecutor’s representative, the Fourth District Court of Appeal held that the Senate Bill 620 applied retroactively to Julie Harper,” Watanabe wrote. (Kamala Harris was California attorney general from 2011 to 2017, she is now a U.S. senator. Xavier Becerra is currently AG of California.)

“Defendant should not receive benefit of this sweeping legislative change that took place years after her decision to murder her husband,” Watanabe wrote to judge Bowman. “Justice is not served here by reducing Defendant’s sentence.”

The prosecutor reminded Bowman, the same judge who heard the murder trials for Julie Harper, that “her murderous actions destroyed an entire family.”

For her second-degree murder conviction in 2015, Julie Harper got 15 years to life. The special allegation “personal discharge of firearm causing death” was found true by the jury, and this added 25 years, giving her a total sentence of 40 years to life.

Watanabe argued in his motion papers that legislators intend for courts to punish those harshly who use firearms in their crimes, both as a deterrent to individual criminals and as an example to society in general. Watanabe stated that the interests of society outweigh any factors which might favor Julie Harper, and to reduce her sentence “would serve no purpose in this case other than to guarantee the release of a dangerous individual.”

Family members are expected to speak to the court during the new sentencing hearing, set for October 24 at 9:30 a.m. in dept. 12 of San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse in Vista.

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Visduh Oct. 15, 2018 @ 1:19 p.m.

This should be interesting. The defense, predictably, wants the enhancement dropped entirely. The prosecution, predictably, wants it kept unchanged. Can't get any farther apart than that. This all comes down to the judge. My first take on him, leading up to and during the first trial, was that he was doing everything he could do to lead to an acquittal. But then in the second trial and during the sentencing, my opinion changed. I think he was just making sure that a conviction would withstand appeal, and it has.

They have that enhancement to discourage those with murderous intent from using firearms. In this case she would have had little means to kill her husband without resorting to use of a handgun. And without that, he'd likely still be alive and she would be walking free.

I'll go out on a limb here and predict that it is certain that Judge Bowman will keep all or part of the enhancement. The most likely outcome is that he will not reduce it at all.


AlexClarke Oct. 16, 2018 @ 8:50 a.m.

While the enhancement is intended to discourage those with murderous intent from using firearms I doubt that anyone thinks of that at the time they commit the crime. The problem is with the sentence. A convicted murderer sentenced to, as in this case, 40 years to life should spend the 40 years before being eligible for parole. While in many cases lengthy sentences are handed out few spend anywhere near the time they were given.


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