Defendant’s sister reveals new information about Julie Harper’s failing marriage

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VISTA, Calif. – Two family members of the Carlsbad mom who killed her husband testified Tuesday in her retrial.

Julie Harper’s sister began the 2nd week in court by changing her story about her sister’s abuse.

In a surprise moment, Amy Killpack, Harper’s sister, told a never-before-heard account of her sister’s failing marriage.

“So July of 2012 -- what is it exactly? I’m giving you the opportunity right now -- what is it exactly your sister said to you?” said Deputy Defense Attorney Keith Watanabe.

“She said that Jason had become very angry, was constantly yelling at her,” said Killpack. “She said he would grab her by her wrists, would twist them, knowing that was a pain point for her.”

Killpack said she never told the story because neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys in previous court proceedings ever asked her.

She also questioned the police report, calling it incorrect and condensed.

“I never received this statement and again, it is incorrect,” said Killpack. “This version is different from what I had. Also everything I told police isn’t detailed here.”

Killpack provided what she called another report, but it turned out to be a different section of the police report.

Watanabe pointed out because of Killpack's health issues and her husband's minimal salary as a special education teacher, the Killpacks rely heavily on financial support from Amy's father, John Cihak.

Killpack said her home is rented from her father at a discount, he pays a $2,000 a month allowance and also her health insurance.  A police report stated she was reluctant to provide information because she feared retaliation from her father.

"I believe I told police everything they wanted to know," said Killpack.

Cihak also took the stand Tuesday.  He was questioned about the events surround Aug. 7, the day Jason Harper was shot and killed.

“I don’t recall” or “I don’t remember” was the answer to many questions asked of Cihak.

The father of the defendant has pled the 5th  when questioned by police and was given an immunity deal to testify in his daughter’s trial.

“I think it’s important to preserve our constitutional rights,” said Cihak.

He said his daughter Julie showed up at his Normal Heights office the afternoon of Aug. 7 unannounced.

“And then she said, basically, I shot Jason in self-defense, I shot Jason to defend myself,” said Cihak.

When asked about how Julie told him Jason died, Cihak’s story seemed inconsistent.

“OK, I think your testimony has just changed,” said Watanabe. “Where you’re including the part where she says she shot Jason in self-defense, but earlier when you testified a few minutes ago you didn’t say anything about shot.”

That day, Harper arrived at Cihak’s office about 3:30, then spent the rest of the day with her father. They called and met with Attorney Paul Pfingst, but Watanabe said they never called police.

“At this point have you tried to call 911, paramedics or summon the police?”

“No,” said Cihak.

“Were you concerned about your son-in-law’s welfare?” asked Watanabe.

“I remember asking her (Julie) was she sure he was dead,” said Cihak.

When asked about a gun, Cihak claimed he knew nothing.

“Did she say anything about gun?” asked Watanabe.

“I don’t believe so,” said Cihak.

“Did she say anything about a murder weapon?” said Watanabe.

“I don’t believe so,” said Cihak.

During a search of Cihak’s home, police found a backpack, which contained the passports of Julie Harper and her children. It also contained a .32 caliber gun, the last will and testament of Jason and Julie Harper and $39,000 in cash.

“I testified it was a bag put together by a woman leaving an abusive relationship,” said Cihak.

Defense Attorney Pfingst pointed out in recent years Cihak has experienced memory problems.

“In fact, you didn’t want me to bring this up today did you? It’s embarrassing,” said Pfingst.

“Yes,” said Cihak.

If convicted, Julie Harper faces 40 years to life.