Upon hearing the news, an Allegan County Deputy Sheriff got in his car and drove 1,200 miles to South Dakota. He took James into custody and brought him to the Allegan County Jail where he remained throughout the court proceedings.
The youth was tried as an adult. During the trial, James' attorney claimed the young man was insane. Several witnesses confirmed his behavior had radically changed in the six months preceding the murders.
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Normally a quiet, polite young man, he became morose and erratic. His grades dropped. He shared morbid “ blood curdling” thoughts including a growing curiosity about what it would be like to shoot someone.
Allegan County deputies confirmed James appeared uncaring, completely unemotional and unregretful about the deaths. Two psychiatrists interviewed him at length and brought conflicting testimony regarding his mental state. Both, however, shared a common belief that the youth did have abnormal personality patterns. James was convicted of Second Degree Murder and given a sentence of up to 40 years. It is unknown what happened to him after the conviction.
I called the name of James again, not knowing if he was still alive or dead, wondering if his confused, homicidal energies might still remain. I whispered, “ The person who killed the little girls … is he here? ” The only obvious answer was silence.