Carlsbad mom killed husband as kids watched cartoons, prosecutor says

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VISTA, Calif. -- A Carlsbad woman fatally shot her schoolteacher husband in their home as their three young children watched cartoons downstairs, then spent the day covering up her actions, a prosecutor said Monday.

Julie Harper, 42, should be convicted of second-degree murder, said Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe.

In his opening statement at Harper's retrial, Watanabe told jurors that the woman shot 39-year-old Jason Harper from behind as they argued in their upstairs bedroom the morning of Aug. 7, 2012.

A different jury last year acquitted Harper of first-degree murder but deadlocked 9-3 on second-degree murder.

Monday, Watanabe said the defendant shot her unarmed husband of 10 years from behind, didn't call 911 and disposed of the murder weapon, which has never been found. The prosecutor called the shooting "unjustified.''

Watanabe acknowledged that Jason Harper was verbally abusive toward his wife, but said the victim was never physically violent with the defendant.

The prosecutor said the victim worked at Carlsbad High School as a math teacher and a volleyball coach, but had to take care of the children in the evening because his wife wasn't doing it.

After the shooting, Harper covered her husband's body with clothes and took the children to her sister's house in Clairemont before going to her father's real estate office and telling him, "I shot Jason in self-defense,'' Watanabe said.

Harper -- who filed for divorce five days before the killing -- spent the night at her father's Scripps Ranch home before her attorney, Paul Pfingst, arranged for her surrender the next day.

Pfingst showed a video secretly recorded by Harper in which she and her husband argue over money and he calls her derogatory names. The victim tells his wife he is staying in the marriage because of the children.

"I'll yell because I want to and you deserve it,'' Jason Harper says in the video.

Pfingst said his client had multiple medical problems, including auto- immune disease.

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