At her first trial, Julie Harper was acquitted of first-degree murder of her husband Jason, a Carlsbad High School teacher and coach. She was then convicted of second-degree murder at her retrial in October.
As she sat down with Fox 5, she said she felt her sentence was not justified.
"It just seems incredibly wrong to be after being acquitted by a jury of my peers of 1st degree murder," said Harper. "In other states for a 2nd degree murder charge some states are 10 years to life and out on parole in 10 years."
Harper was convicted of 2nd degree murder which carries a term of 15 years to life, however because her charge also carried a weapons violation, it's an additional 25 years.
“So devastating to me. It’s hard to understand how -- when I had been not just a good mother, but just such a devoted mother -- that I’m in this situation,” said Harper. "There's no difference between someone using an assault rifle in a theater compared to someone like me who was a victim of abuse."
Julie had three children with Jason had together. Following the crime, Julie lost her parental rights and they now live with Jason’s parents. She said it’s not just a loss to her, but to her parents as well.
“My mother-in-law has not allowed them to see my parents,” Julie said. “So now they’ve not only lost a daughter, but they’ve lost their grandchildren as well. That seems so wrong.”
Julie has since had a fourth child by in vitro fertilization. She said she had the baby as a part of moving on, since she and her family thought she would be acquitted again.
“I had always had so much love to give to my children that I wanted at some point to move on and do that again and share that love with another child,” Julie said.
Instead she was convicted, a verdict she called shocking.
“From the get-go, myself, my family and I still do believe in my innocence, that I’m innocent of any criminal wrongdoing,” Julie said. “Maybe it would be involuntary manslaughter or even voluntary manslaughter or hung jury or even complete acquittal, but that was definitely a surprise.”
Harper feels let down and is disappointed by the justice system. She felt it was unfair of the judge to let the jurors dry fire the Derringer gun during her retrial.
"It was never done in the first trial," said Harper. "More importantly you simply can't equate the kind of stress and fear I was under being attacked by a huge 6 foot 7, 240 pound athletic husband."
She also said in all her efforts to protect her children, she was dismayed that they were still put on the stand to testify.
"It just broke my heart that they had to go through that when it wasn’t necessary," said Harper. "They already got what they needed from them in their initial interviews."
When asked looking back now, does she have regrets that she didn't call 9-11 to call for help after shooting her husband.
"It came down to basic instinct, the need to protect my kids," said Harper. "I didn't want them to see anything that would cause more trauma."
Harper said she is already working on an appeal, but while she’s doing her time, she wants to help others.
“I have decided that I want to start a foundation, the Julie Harper foundation,” she explained. “To affect legal change for women in abusive relationships.”
She said her foundation will be devoted to helping women of domestic violence with providing resources and getting legal help.
“To be able to give legal help to women in need and to help them get out of an abusive relationship,” said Harper.
She said she also wants to become a political activist, continuing to fight for her innocence and now others, too.
“I want to make a difference, not just for myself or two or three other women, but hopefully for thousands of women,” said Harper.