Paul Harper, former owner of Paul Paul’s House of Food in downtown Laramie, was charged with second-degree attempted murder for attacking his friend with a sword.
If Harper were convicted of that crime, he would face a minimum prison sentence of 20 years.
Albany County prosecutors also charged Harper with attempted manslaughter, aggravated assault and battery, and possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent.
After Harper cut his friend several times on his left hand and wrist, the victim was life-flighted to UC Health Medical Center of the Rockies in Colorado, where a doctor said that the victim will “likely only be able to use his thumb and index finger in the future and would not be able to use the remaining digits,” according to a police affidavit of probable cause.
The attack came in Monday’s early hours when the victim — who told police he and Harper had been friends for four years — had been drinking at Harper’s house.
Harper and the victim, identified as E.B. in court documents, each gave conflicting accounts of what led to the attack.
E.B. told a detective for the Laramie Police Department that, after both men consumed alcohol, they decided to start boxing.
During the second round of boxing, the victim told police that he punched Harper in the face accidentally.
That allegedly led to Harper becoming furious.
“How dare you punch me in the face, you piece of s—,” Harper reportedly stated, and the victim then called Harper a “bitch.”
E.B. claimed Harper then went to his bedroom and “reappeared with only underwear on” while brandishing a Samurai sword. Police described the sword as being of “medieval style.”
Harper then allegedly demanded E.B. disrobe and said “take off all your clothes and I’m going to show you what a bitch really is.”
After the victim took off his clothes, he told police that he pleaded for Harper to put the sword down and was “crying before the first swing of the sword.”
As E.B. put up his left hand arm up to protect himself, Harper took multiple swings with the sword and, at one point, reportedly said “this sword is sharp and I’m going to show you how sharp it is again.”
E.B. told police he kept trying to hide behind chairs in Harper’s house, but kept getting cornered.
“The victim stated that he could feel each strike of the sword go deep into his arm and he recalled observing blood ‘pouring out,’ the affidavit stated.
During the attack, E.B. said he told Harper the defendant had “probably killed his wife on purpose.”
Before opening Paul Paul’s in 2018, Harper had spent a year in jail after his wife’s 2016 death.
Harper was convicted of a felony for drug distribution because the hydrocodone that Harper had illicitly his wife contributed to her death, an autopsy found. Their children were placed into foster care.
Harper told the Boomerang in 2018 that he didn’t think twice about sharing his medication because his wife recently had back surgery and had already been taking hydrocodone.
Harper’s probation ended more than a year early, in October 2019. Becky Farley, an Albany County prosecutor, said that the prosecutor’s office had no objection to a motion to end the probation early, and Tori Kricken, the district court judge, approved the motion.
After the sword attack ended Monday, E.B. fled the house and tried calling police. Unable to use his left hand, he later said he “had to manipulate the phone while it was tucked between his chest and his functioning right hand and it took a long time to call for help.”
When he finally did, he was in and out of consciousness while on the phone, and ultimately ceased talking and was just “breathing on the line.”
Harper was the first to call police and gave conflicting accounts. He initially said he hit E.B. with the sword after the man had broken into the house.
Later he acknowledged the two had been drinking and that it was E.B. who provoked the attack by “verbally challenging Harper and saying ‘you killed your wife and I’m gonna kill you.”
Harper claimed he told E.B. to leave the house, but the man refused and charged Harper, prompting him to swing the sword once.
Medical evidence contradicting Harper’s claim that he only hit E.B. once, with doctors telling police that E.B. was struck at least three times and the wounds were consistent with the victim protecting himself.
When police later searched Harper’s house, they found “vast amounts of blood stains in the kitchen, living room, front door area which led approximately one half city block away from the crime scene.”
“These blood stains were indicative of severe wounds and arterial spurting,” the affidavit states.
Boxing gloves were also found at the house.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, your affiant believes that if the victim had not defensively postured by placing his left arm up while blocking the blows from the sword delivered by Harper, that the victim would have likely endured injuries to his vital organs and/or neck and head,” LPD Detective Matthew Leibovitz wrote in the affidavit.