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Carlsbad Woman Who Shot Husband Acquitted Of First-Degree Murder

Julie Harper testifies during her murder trial for the Aug.7, 2012, shooting death of her husband, Jason Harper. Sept. 23, 2014.
10News
Julie Harper testifies during her murder trial for the Aug.7, 2012, shooting death of her husband, Jason Harper. Sept. 23, 2014.

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 — second-degree murder and manslaughter.

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 her 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.

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