Jury starts deliberating in Harper murder re-trial - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Jury starts deliberating in Harper murder re-trial

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Jury deliberations resume Thursday in the murder re-trial of a Carlsbad woman who fatally shot her husband in their North County home more than three years ago.

Harper is charged with second-degree murder for the Aug. 7, 2012 shooting death of her husband Jason Harper, who was a teacher at Carlsbad High School. She was acquitted of first-degree murder last year.

Harper claims that she shot her husband in self-defense, fearing that he would kill or rape her.

During closing arguments Tuesday, the prosecution and defense offered different theories about the motive.

"Julie Harper killed Jason out of anger, bitterness and scorn," Prosecution said.

"It is a fact that Julie Harper was a victim of domestic violence. It is a fact that she was emotionally, verbally and physically abused by her husband," Defense said.

On Monday, jurors took part in a hands-on demonstration and test-fired a gun similar to the one Harper used to shoot her husband to death three years ago. 

Related Story: [Jurors in Julie Harper trial test-fire gun

Some of the jurors dry-fired it once, and others multiple times. 

The move as a late attempt by prosecutors to allow jurors to feel the weight of a ten-pound trigger pull. 

The judge on the case allowed it over several objections from Julie Harper's Attorney. 

"I think most jurors would find it helpful to find out exactly what a ten pound, or eleven pound trigger pull is, so I am going to allow it," said the judge. 

According to Bill Nimmo, a criminal defense attorney, who is not involved in the Harper case, it's a good move from the prosecution. 

See related story: [Prosecution cross-examines Julie Harper]

"This is a good prosecutor to do that. A lot of time you get these modern prosecutors hooked to power points and that's not how you win cases. How you win cases is by thinking creatively and bringing home the event to the juries from your point of you," he said. 

Harper claims she had the gun that night to get her enraged husband to back away when it accidentally went off.  

"It looks to me like the prosecution is trying to dispute that the individual is saying the gun accidentally went off. With a ten pound trigger pull, it's difficult to see how it would be a  pure accident. Could it be an emotional reaction in the heat of a frightening event? Absolutely," said Nimmo. 

Jurors fired the gun individually after Harper's Attorney argued it could warp their interpretation of the evidence. 

"Jurors can watch other jurors shooting a gun and start projecting how that juror handles the gun and compare that to how they may project Ms. Harper handled the gun even though the gun was handled under dramatically different circumstances," said Nimmo. 

If convicted, Julie Harper faces 44-years to life in prison. 

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