Jurors fire unloaded gun in Julie Harper retrial

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VISTA, Calif. – The retrial of the Carlsbad mom who shot and killed her husband is moving into the final stages. Testimony from both prosecution and defense was completed Monday.

Each juror also had the opportunity to fire an unloaded Derringer .38 special, the gun used by Julie Harper in the shooting death of Jason Harper.

Most jurors fired the gun one to two times, but two jurors fired it three times. One juror fired the gun four times.

“As he was coming towards me, he said I’m going to kill you,” said Julie Harper.

Harper testified earlier in the week she shot her husband in self-defense.

“He was yelling all of these things and screaming. Then he grabbed me by the arms and started shaking me forcefully. I knew that he was going to rape me,” Harper told jurors.

She said she accidentally fired the gun.

“I heard a loud noise and I felt my hand jerk,” said Harper. "He fell forward."

Harper said she tried calling her husband's name several times.

"There was no movement, no breath, nothing," said Harper.

Prosecutors set out to prove with a safety and a trigger pull weight of 10 to 11 pounds, it was no accident. The hope was jurors would experience what it took to pull the trigger on the Derringer through the dry-fire demonstration.

It was a demonstration that took place under much controversy. Attorney Paul Pfingst argued jurors would not be under same stressful conditions as his client.

“Your honor, Julie Harper was under attack. Jason Harper was an intimidating man, standing at 6-foot-6. She was in a very different circumstance and environment,” said Pfingst. “This is also not the real gun.”

Judge Blaine Bowman denied defense objections.

“I understand your objections Mr. Pfingst, but we don’t have the real gun here because of the actions of your client. She has testified she was attempting to preserve evidence for trial. Well, she didn’t do a very good job of preserving the evidence,” said Judge Bowman.

Harper has testified she buried the gun near her father’s Normal Heights office, but when she went back to retrieve it a year later, she claimed it was gone.

If convicted, Harper could face 40 years to life in prison. It has been widely reported her exposure is 44 years to life, but FOX 5 confirmed with Watanabe that information is incorrect.

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