Man says he 'blacked out' during murder

Lawrence James

A Humble man charged with murdering his aunt in Port Arthur is set to appear for trial later this month.

Lawrence James Jr., 44, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury May 17, 2012 for murder, a first-degree felony.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Examiner, police discovered the body of Bettye Loretta Davis in a state of decomposition on March 30, 2012.

Large amounts of dried blood were found throughout the home at 2213 Shirley Street in Port Arthur where Davis was found face down on the kitchen floor with numerous stab wounds.

An autopsy was conducted and, according to the attending physician, the preliminary cause of death was stabbing, and her death was ruled a homicide.

James was arrested for possession of a controlled substance in Harris County on Feb. 28 about 1:28 a.m. while driving his murdered aunt’s grey 2007 Toyota Camry, the affidavit said. A few days later, police interviewed James who — according to the affidavit — waived his rights and gave police a voluntary statement saying that on Feb. 27, he came to his aunt’s home to clean her car in exchange for money.

The affidavit said James told police he and his aunt were the only two people at the home when a fight broke out between the two in the garage.

“The accused said he recalled holding a knife during this time,” the affidavit said. “It was a knife he said he picked up in the garage.”

The two continued arguing in the kitchen, but James denied any direct knowledge of his aunt’s death.

“The accused said he ‘blacked out’ and when he came to, the victim was lying on the kitchen floor,” the affidavit said. Police say James got in his aunt’s car and simply drove off.

The affidavit says, “The accused said he went and bought some crack cocaine and then traveled to Houston in the victim’s vehicle. The accused said in his statement that he has had time to think about the entire incident and that it was not his intentions to kill the victim. The accused also told (police) he thinks he killed her because he was the only one there.”

James was arrested Sept. 21, 2012, and booked into the Jefferson County Jail where he still sits with a $100,000 bond.

He is set to appear for trial March 24 in Judge Lindsey Scott’s 252nd Criminal District Court.