Closing arguments in Harper murder trial - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Closing arguments in Harper murder trial

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VISTA (CNS) - Closing arguments got underway Friday in the trial of a Carlsbad mother of three charged with murdering her schoolteacher-husband in the couple's home five days after she filed for divorce.

Julie Elizabeth Harper, 41, is charged in the Aug. 7, 2012, shooting death of Jason Harper, 39, a math teacher and volleyball coach at Carlsbad High School. She faces up to 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

When the trial resumes Monday, defense attorney Paul Pfingst will continue presenting his closing argument, then prosecutor Keith Watanabe will give his rebuttal argument and the case will go to the jury.

In his opening statement, Watanabe told jurors the defendant killed her husband during a morning argument while their three young children watched cartoons downstairs, then left the home with her children and a "getaway bag" instead of calling for help.

According to Watanabe, a week before the killing, Harper forged her husband's signature and withdrew $9,000 from two bank accounts and later withdrew $11,000 from her daughter's college fund. She also filed for divorce, requesting custody of the children and possession of the family home.

Earlier this week, the defendant testified that she shot her husband because she was trying to stop him from sexually assaulting or otherwise harming her.

Harper, a stay-at-home mom, also claimed on the stand that in her volatile marriage of more than a decade her husband had been verbally and physically abusive, and had raped her at least 30 times.

"I didn't even intend to shoot him, I only wanted to scare him or to make him stop -- not rape me, not hurt me or possibly even worse," she testified during cross examination.

The defendant surrendered to police at her father's Scripps Ranch home the day after the shooting.

The murder weapon -- an unregistered handgun -- has never been found, Watanabe said.

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