Jury begins deliberating Harper murder case - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Jury begins deliberating Harper murder case

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VISTA (CNS) - A jury Monday began deliberating the fate 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, faces up to 50 years to life in prison if convicted in the Aug. 7, 2012, shooting death of 39-year-old Jason Harper, a math teacher and volleyball coach at Carlsbad High School.

Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe told jurors the defendant killed her husband during an 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, the prosecutor said.

The defendant testified last week 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.

Jury deliberations are set to resume Tuesday morning.

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