Carlsbad mother of three charged with murder in death of teacher - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Carlsbad mother of three charged with murder in death of teacher-husband

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VISTA (CNS) - A Carlsbad mother of three was charged with murder Friday for allegedly gunning down her schoolteacher husband a week after she filed for divorce.

Julie Elizabeth Harper faces 50 years to life behind bars if convicted in the slaying of 39-year-old Jason Harper, her husband of 11 years, whom she accused in divorce documents of being profane, aggressive and violent toward her.

The 39-year-old defendant's formal arraignment was put off until Monday at the request of defense attorney Paul Pfingst. She remains in custody without bail.

At Pfingst's request, Judge Richard Mills directed jail deputies to make sure the defendant gets medications for undisclosed physical ailments.

Harper, a homemaker and former real estate agent, surrendered to detectives at her father's Scripps Ranch home Wednesday afternoon, some 16 hours after police found the body of her husband -- a Carlsbad High School geometry teacher -- in the couple's home.

The defendant was with her three young children at the time of her arrest. The children were taken into protective custody and were expected to be released into the care of a relative.

Pfingst called the situation a "catastrophe" for all involved. He said the defendant just wants to know her children are OK.

"At this point her life is in shambles," Pfingst told reporters."She is going through a large grieving process. She just wants to know about her children."

Police conducting a welfare check shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday found the victim's body in an upstairs bedroom in his family's home in a gated neighborhood east of Rancho Carlsbad Golf Course.

Along with their mother, the couple's children -- a daughter, 6, and two sons, ages 18 months and 8 years old -- were absent when police arrived at the Badger Lane residence to check on Jason Harper.

Pfingst said he called police to request the welfare check, but declined to say who asked him to do so.

Also missing from the home were the woman's gold Toyota Sienna minivan and a silver Ford Expedition belonging to her husband.

Fellow Carlsbad High math teacher Kristi Matsubara said Jason Harper was a "fabulous teacher."

"The kids loved him," Matsubara said.

Laura Ogan, who also works at the high school, said the 6-foot-9-inch Harper was known as the "Gentle Giant."

"He was just very kind and very loving, he really was," Ogan said.

Teacher Amanda Waters said the educator would hate all the attention his killing has brought.

"His children were his life," Waters said. "He loved his kids and would do anything for them."

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