Murdered mother told police her husband was “capable of killing” her

Leaders say domestic violence “risk assessment” is often ignored
KOLD News 10-10:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 10:27 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -More chilling details have emerged about the gruesome execution of a family last year.

We’ve learned the murdered mother had told police her husband was capable of killing her and tried before.

That man, John James, is sitting in jail accused of the crime.

Some leaders are pointing to flaws in critical parts of the judicial system that’s putting the public in danger.

One of the parts is a risk assessment form used in violent domestic disputes.

It’s a vital tool that they say is often ignored.

A mother and her two sons,14 and 18, shot to death in their own home last year.

Never-before seen body cam footage shows a Tucson Police officer approaching the house after Willona’s White father called 911 to report the killings, but we’re told the video inside the home is too grim to release.

“There was a lot of blood. There was a lot of cartridge cases throughout the house. It was just a lot of violence,” Tucson Police Detective Pat Robinson said.

At the time of the killings John James was out on a low bond of $5,000 on charges of domestic violence against White in 2019.

Many would argue he should have been in jail awaiting trial.

Police records describe what White reported back then.

Officers had been dispatched to deal with a “domestic dispute involving weapons.”

White told police James called her degrading names, told her, “I just want to break your neck”, and “spat in her face”.

He grabbed both her weapons, a shotgun and a handgun, the same one’s police say he used in the killings.

At one point, he racked the slide of the handgun, pointed it at White and then threw it at her in front of one of her sons.

A short time later, officers arrested James on charges of Domestic Violence Aggravated Assault and Disorderly Conduct with a Deadly Weapon.

But he didn’t stay in jail long, only a few days.

And Sheriff Chris Nanos doesn’t understand why.

“I get frustrated every time we see these kinds of cases” where violent felons are released from his jail,” he said.

Nanos reviewed the case and stressed that James at the time of the domestic violence attack already had an extensive criminal history that included domestic violence.

“The defendant used a deadly weapon, dangerous. And they spell it out. Shotgun,” Nanos said.

That alone, Nanos said, should have kept him behind bars because James is a prohibited possessor and violated his probation.

He was arrested on that charge as well.

“Significant criminal record,” said Nanos, “Right here he has prior felony convictions, times four, A substantial misdemeanor record, 10. Defendant is a flight risk because he’s unemployed.”

And there’s also the risk assessment questionnaire that Willona White answers the day of that domestic violence attack.

Monday at 10, what it reveals and why leaders argue the critical justice system in Pima County is seriously flawed and needs to be fixed.