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January 7, 2016

I’ve been following the second trial of Julie Harper in Carlsbad , CA. Julia admitted killing her husband. Her motive? To break free from his financial, emotional and physical abuse of her and her children.  Julia was acquitted of first degree murder during her first trial, but the jury deadlocked on the second degree murder charge. This new trial is to decide her guilt or innocence on that issue.

The media has conflicting reports about the trial and I have not attended it. But I’ve read about a few facts that the prosecutor seems to be using as evidence of her guilt: her husband was a very well liked popular teacher at the local high school; she had squirreled away a backpack containing passports and a large sum of cash, $35,000 and a gun. She also is a hoarder. I propose that these bits of evidence are not proof of her guilt, but of his.

It is a well-known fact that an abuser is often well-liked in his community and quite popular. So much so, that outsiders cannot conceive of his abuses inside the home. He uses this charm to attract others. What he doesn’t show to his fans is his tyrant side. Because he needs to be popular in public, his controlling nature comes out only at home. This is not evidence against Julie.

Julie had stashed her back pack with the cash, gun and passports in her father’s attic.  She was doing what all breaking free women should do. She created a breaking-free -bag for her eventual escape.  I commend her for thinking ahead to her needs when she takes her children and flees.

Julie was a hoarder. Boxes of stuff were found throughout the home. Is this proof of her intent to murder her husband? How can it be anything other than a passive resistance to his bullying? Or to her decreased financial condition? Julie had had a successful career in the real estate game. That is until the housing slump hit and her income dropped precipitously. Her husband could not recognize this drop and insisted that Julie pay one half of all the bills that the family incurred, including a hefty mortgage.

I don’t know whether Julie is guilty of murder in the second degree or if she was just defending herself and her children against further attacks.  But I do feel that the evidence that the prosecutor is presenting against her is evidence of spousal abuse, nothing more.

Julie Harper was convicted by the jury in her trial. She is appealing the judgement.

Should defending oneself against an abuser be a crime? Is it murder of any degree? My readers and I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on this matter. Have you escaped a charge of murder when you killed your abuser in self defense? Or tried and failed to do so? Please respond to this post or email me at


CL. Woodhams, author: The multiple award-winning novel, The Outreach Committee (available from







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