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Judge won’t reduce prison time for Carlsbad mom who murdered husband

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- A judge declined Wednesday to reduce the prison sentence of a Carlsbad woman who shot and killed her husband while their kids watched cartoons downstairs in 2012.

Julie Harper had petitioned Judge Blaine Bowman to "strike" a 25- year gun enhancement that was tacked onto her 15-year-to-life sentence for second-degree murder in the Aug. 7, 2012, death of Jason Harper.

A new state law gives judges discretion to impose the 25-year gun enhancement. It was mandatory when the defendant was originally sentenced.

Earlier this year, the 4th District Court of Appeal found that Harper's case is among those affected by the new law, and sent it back to Bowman for possible re-sentencing.

In sentencing Harper in January 2016, Bowman said her testimony that her husband came at her in a rage and that she shot him accidentally was "inherently untrustworthy and not worthy of belief."

Wednesday, the judge told Harper that even though she has been a model prisoner, she left a "trail of devastation" when she shot and killed her spouse.

"Once you pulled that trigger and ended Jason Harper’s life, that decision you made that day was final and it was irreversible," said Hon. Blaine Bowman, Superior Court Judge.

Bowman noted Harper did not call 911 after she shot the victim, and later buried the gun she used to kill him, which has never been found. The judge said Jason Harper might still be alive if the defendant had chosen another way to try to kill him.

Lina Harper, Jason's mother, told the judge that Harper's children -- who were 8, 6 and 1 when their mother killed their father -- "don't want any reminder of her."

Harper said in true justice and fairness to her son, Julie should serve the full sentence.

“If ever there was a case that deserves the added years, for the use of a gun this is it," said Lina.  "A gun was used to rob him of 40 years of his life. In no way should his killer be free any sooner than the number of years that she took from him.”

Jake Harper, who is now 15, wrote a letter to the court, saying his mother "should serve her full 40 years."

“When she pulled that trigger, she decided to take one man’s life," said Jake.

When Harper was sentenced in 2016, Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe told the victim's family that the defendant would have to serve 40 years before becoming eligible for parole.

"Since then the California legislature has made liars of us all," Watanabe told Judge Bowman.

Harper apologized for her actions and told the judge she takes full responsibility for killing her husband, a popular math teacher and volleyball coach at Carlsbad High School. The defendant said her three children -- and one she had between her first and second trials -- are the "center of my universe."

Harper told the judge that her mother recently died and her only sister committed suicide. "I have lost everything that was important to me," she said.

Quoting the bible, Harper asked the judge for mercy.

"Jesus taught love, forgiveness and mercy.  Faith isn’t really faith until it’s all you have left. Please send me away with something today other than my faith," pleaded Harper.

Carlsbad mother Julie Harper had hoped for a reduced prison sentence in the 2012 murder of her husband, but a judge Wednesday chose not to change the terms of her sentence.