Hearing scheduled in teacher slaying case: Julie Harper accused of murdering husband, Jason Harper
Jason Harper worked as a teacher, coach
Last Updated: 365 days ago
VISTA, Calif. - The mother-in-law of a woman charged with murdering her husband in their Carlsbad home testified Tuesday that she kept an "ongoing chronology" of events after her son told her that his marriage was headed toward divorce.
Lina Harper's testimony came as a preliminary hearing got under way for Julie Harper, who is accused in the Aug. 7 fatal shooting of 39-year-old Jason Harper, her husband of 10 years.
The defendant, also 39, had filed for divorce a week earlier, claiming in court documents that she endured verbal abuse as well as pushing and shoving at the hands of her husband.
Lina Harper said she started writing down "mom's concerns and notes" after her son called her on Nov. 22, 2011, saying his marriage was over.
"It (the chronology) was just to build a picture of what was happening in the household," the defendant's mother-in-law testified.
Lina Harper said her "cordial" relationship with her daughter-in-law cooled in early 2011 with the birth of the couple's third child.
The witness said she and her husband didn't use the defendant as their realtor when they bought a house in Carlsbad in June, and that made Julie Harper mad.
Lina Harper said the defendant tried to retaliate against her, even scheduling her grandson's baptism at a time when she couldn't attend.
Jason Harper told his mother, "You're in for it now, mom," after his wife started reading the book, "How In-Laws Ruin a Marriage," Lina Harper testified.
Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe alleged the defendant shot her spouse between 8 and 9 a.m. and didn't surrender to police until 18 hours later.
The couple's 8- and 6-year-old children told investigators they heard a "thump" and their father yell the morning of the shooting.
When the children arrived at their parents' bedroom, the door was barricaded and their mother said their father had fallen off a chair, according to Watanabe.
The defendant took the two children and the couple's 18-month-old son and went to a coffee shop, then to a neighbor's house for a "play date," then to a play area, the prosecutor said. She then dropped off the children at her sister's home in Clairemont and disappeared, Watanabe said.
About 11 p.m., defense attorney Paul Pfingst called Carlsbad police and asked them to do a welfare check at the couple's home. The victim was found face-down with a gunshot wound to the side. The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office said the bullet entered the victim's side and went through his heart.
Prosecutors also said the defendant had two guns registered under her name, but they noted the weapon used in the incident has not been recovered. Investigators found a shotgun with ammunition in Julie Harper's bedroom closet. Additionally, prosecutors alleged Harper had a bag prepared with a passport and other documents she would need to leave.
Lina Harper testified that her daughter-in-law had extensive firearms training and expressed those concerns to her son. She also said Julie Harper was addicted to painkillers and was a hoarder.
Pfingst said his client tried to use the courts to dissolve the marriage. "Obviously, that did not work out as she planned," her attorney said.
At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, which resume Wednesday, Judge Robert Kearney will decide if enough evidence was presented for the defendant to stand trial. The defendant faces a maximum of 50 years to life if convicted.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. City News Service contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.