Murder suspect who was on the run after removing monitoring device denied bond
A murder suspect who removed his monitoring device and was on the run since February has been denied bond.
Willie James Jr. is accused of shooting and killing Matthew Gibbons in 2018 in west Charlotte. James was ordered to wear a monitoring device in June of that year as a condition of his pre-trial release. Police said James cut his device off early on Feb. 28 and was set to go on trial for murder.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers found James on Monday and took him back into custody. It is unclear where James was found.
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On Tuesday, James appeared in court. He was given no bond on the murder charge and was charged with two new misdemeanors for cutting off the monitor and injury to personal property.
James received a $50,000 bond for the misdemeanors and was given an August court date for them.
A court date for the murder charge has not yet been set.
James was wanted on charges related to first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm by felon, interfering with an electronic monitoring device, and injury to property.
‘That program needs to be revamped’
There was a hearing set for Wednesday morning, but there was still no word on where James was at. CMPD’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Team is looking for him, but many in the community are questioning how a felon facing murder charges could be out on an electronic monitor to begin with.
“No one knows where he is, no one knows how long it will take to get him back in front of a court room, back in front of a judge, back in front of a jury,” said Lucille Puckett, whose son was killed while the suspect was on an electronic monitor.
Puckett has been a critic of the electronic monitor system for a long time. She thinks the system needs to change.
While Gibbons was killed in 2018, Mecklenburg County stopped giving murder suspects electronic monitors in 2019. But CMPD tells us three homicide suspects are still being monitored.
“That program needs to be totally revamped, even for those who were grandfathered in,” Puckett said. “If they committed a violent crime, they need to be in jail until their court date.”
James has an extensive criminal history beyond the charges he’s currently wanted for. He was convicted of child abuse and failure to store a firearm from a minor in 2016, breaking and entering in 2015, and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon in 2014.
Channel 9 also found that last year, James violated probation from Robeson County. Yet, he was still allowed to be out of jail while awaiting trial for murder.
Puckett says James could be anywhere, and she worries for the safety of the entire community.
“I am praying and hoping they catch him before he takes someone else’s life,” she said.
The district attorney’s office said it’s not commenting on a pending case, but added that a new trial date would be set when James is in custody again.
If you any information on the whereabouts of James Jr., you are asked to call 704-432-8888.
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