Home / National News / Jury to Begin Deliberations in California Mother's Murder Trial


(SAN DIEGO) — A California jury is set to begin deliberations Wednesday in the second trial of a woman accused of killing her husband.

Julie Harper, 42, is charged with second-degree murder in the 2012 death of her husband Jason, a high school math teacher and volleyball coach.

The judge for the San Diego stay-at-home mother’s earlier case declared a mistrial after the jurors were deadlocked.

Her attorney, Paul Joseph Pfingst, said she was a victim of domestic violence, while prosecutors allege that Harper chose to pull the trigger.

The shooting happened in the couple’s Carlsbad bedroom while their children watched cartoons downstairs, officials said. Harper has admitted to killing her husband, but claims it was self-defense.

Instead of calling for help after the shooting, prosecutors say, Harper took off with the couple’s three children and a getaway bag, driving around town before turning herself in 16 hours later.

Harper also claims the gun went off by accident.

“I never intended to shoot him,” she said on the stand. “I only intended to scare him and, hopefully, stop him from hurting me.”

The prosecution allowed jurors on Monday to test-fire a handgun similar to the one she says she used that police never recovered. The handgun requires 10 pounds of pressure to fire, according to a firearms expert.

ABC News’ chief legal affairs correspondent, Dan Abrams, said the gun demonstration represents a potential problem for the defense.

“It’s really unusual that each juror got a chance to pull the trigger. They could see how hard it would be to pull the trigger accidentally,” Abrams said. “That’s one reason it will be very hard, almost impossible, for the jury not to find her guilty of something.”

The defense says it’s implausible that Harper shot her husband unprovoked.

“The history of Julie Harper does not lead one to believe that all of a sudden she turns into an assassin,” Pfingst said.

Prosecutors will present their rebuttal argument on Wednesday and the case is expected to go to the jury of seven women and five men.

If convicted, Harper faces 40 years to life in prison.

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