Carlsbad Killer’s Sentence May Be Reduced Under New Law

A Carlsbad woman convicted and sentenced for second-degree murder after shooting and killing her husband may get a lesser sentence after an appeal.

Julie Harper killed her husband, Jason Harper, on Aug. 7, 2012 in their North County home. She was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.

An appeals court ruling recently affirmed Harper’s conviction but ruled she was eligible for resentencing under a law that went into effect on Jan. 1.

Harper’s case is one of the first in the state where a sentence could be changed by Senate Bill 620, legislation that gives a judge the discretion to strike a gun allegation.

Previously, a murder involving a gun would add an additional mandatory sentence of 25 years to life for the defendant.

If the additional gun allegation is removed by the judge, Harper would see her sentence reduced from the original 40 years to life behind bars to 15 years to life in prison.

“It does create some trauma and revictimization for the Harper family, particularly the Harper children, who believed that this sentence was final and now have to face the fact that Harper is back in court,” said Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe.

Harper’s first trial was in the fall of 2014, and at that trial, she was acquitted on first-degree murder charges. Prosecutors sought to retry her on second-degree murder charges, and her retrial began Sept. 14, 2015. Following the retrial, a jury found her guilty of second-degree murder on Oct. 8, 2015.

Harper’s retrial included dramatic, emotional testimony from her in-laws and the couple’s children.

The defendant also took the stand for three days, recounting graphic details of her relationship with Jason and the chilling moment she pulled the trigger and killed him.

In court on Wednesday, Harper was assigned public defender Brian Dooley to handle the resentencing hearing. Her next court appearance will be on Oct. 29.

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