VISTA, Calif. – A Carlsbad mother of three who shot and killed her schoolteacher husband as they argued in their upstairs bedroom more than three years ago was sentenced Friday to 40 years to life in prison.
“As Jason’s mother, I miss him every single day. There is such a huge voice in our lives because he is not here,” said Lina Harper, Jason’s mother.
Harper began the sentencing for her former daughter in law, through tears she told about Jason, the devoted son, husband, but most of all father.
“He wanted to live and be of a part of his children’s lives as they grow up, he loved all three of them very much, said Harper.
The most powerful words came from the children of Jason and Julie Harper. Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe read their statement.
“Hello my name is Jake,” said Watanabe. “She murdered with no sense of the consequences, leaving my siblings and I parentless. She has destroyed our lives and does not want to accept the consequences, she did not realize she would go to jail and now she’s trying to weasel out of punishment.”
Jacquelyn, the Harpers’ daughter said “Because you killed our dad, you are no longer Mom. You are Julie, I will never call you Mom again.”
“He was a very different man to me,” cried Harper to the judge.
Harper made a 40 minute plea for mercy, once again reminding the court she was the victim.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t articulate that well enough during the trial with everything I went through with him,” cried Harper.
Harper has testified that she shot her spouse of 10 years in self-defense because she feared he was going to kill or rape her. She said she fired the gun accidentally as he charged her during the argument.
Judge Blaine Bowman acknowledged Harper’s plea, but said his decision came down to her testimony.
“The court has weighed the credible evidence and that does not include the testimony of the defendant,” said Judge Bowman. “You pulled trigger and you killed him. Therefore, are sentenced to 40 years to life for the killing of Jason Harper.”
Several of the 12 jurors present for the sentencing spoke to Fox 5.
“None of us had any qualms about it,” said Steve Westland, juror.
The jurors said they wanted to show support for the victim’s family.
“I wanted especially today to be here for Mr. and Mrs. Harper,” said Judy Bliss, juror.
“We thought what she brought on the families, especially on her own kids was horrible,” said Westland.
The jurors said there was never any doubt about the decision they made.
“We just added it all up and it all added up to 100% guilty,” said Westland.
“The woman is very smart and very conniving, intelligent, but we could see the truth,” said Bliss.
Jurors said the strongest argument from prosecutors was the journal Harper kept.
“I actually took the dayplanner and into my hands read it and looked at it. It was sickening,” said Bliss. “When she testified on the stand, every time she said the word sex and it meant rape, it just didn’t make sense.”
Jurors said they doubted Harper, even down to her last plea for leniency.
“Today, I would listen to the tone of her voice and she would start rambling and start going into this world of make-believe and dreaming,” said Bliss.
“I think we felt very justified in coming up with our verdict,” said Carol Grimes, juror.
For that verdict, Julie Harper will now possibly spend the rest of her life in prison.
“I think she’s where she needs to be, it’s a proper sentence,” said Grimes. “That man is gone forever and those children will suffer forever.”