Carlsbad woman acquitted of first-degree murder in husband's dea - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Carlsbad woman acquitted of first-degree murder in husband's death

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VISTA (CBS 8/CNS) - A Carlsbad woman who shot her schoolteacher-husband in the couple's home during an argument was acquitted Wednesday of first-degree murder, and jurors deadlocked on lesser charges.

Julie Elizabeth Harper, 41, could have faced 50 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the Aug. 7, 2012, shooting death of 39-year-old Jason Harper, a math teacher and volleyball coach at Carlsbad High School.

On the third day of deliberations, Judge Blaine Bowman declared a mistrial on the lesser charges against Harper. The jury voted 9-3 for acquittal on second-degree murder and 7-5 for guilty on voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

“She is a liar,” said juror #4. “I thought she was 100 percent guilty of first degree murder no doubt about it."

The juror did not want to show her face but explains why voted unanimously with the jury to acquit Harper on first-degree murder. “I guess I was willing to take premeditation out of it despite what I personally thought to come to an agreement on second-degree murder." 

Pfingst told CBS News 8 another juror on the case was a trial lawyer. 

A status conference was set for Oct. 15, when a retrial date could be set.

Harper's attorney also the former San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst says they are relieved but know Harper can be re-tried on the lesser charges.

“It's not over so you have to temper your relief with the understanding there is a still a lot of ground left to cover before this may be over,” said Pfingst. “It's a partial victory but there is still a great deal of hazard going forward for Julie and she is not out of the woods.”  

Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe told jurors the defendant killed her husband during an argument while their three young children watched cartoons downstairs, then -- instead of calling for help -- left the home with the children and a "getaway bag."

Harper testified that she shot her husband in self-defense because she was trying to stop him from sexually assaulting or otherwise harming her.

Harper, a stay-at-home mom, also testified that her husband had been verbally and physically abusive in their volatile marriage of more than a decade 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.

Harper -- who had filed divorce papers five days before the shooting -- surrendered to police at her father's Scripps Ranch home the day after her husband was killed.

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