Married man guilty in shooting death of secret fiancée

Posted at 12:17 PM, April 29, 2021 and last updated 8:01 PM, July 19, 2023

By Ivy Brown, Court TV

MONROE COUNTY, Mo. — A jury found James Addie guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death of his secret fiancée, 35-year-old Molly Watson.

In Missouri, first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life without the possibility of parole or death, however, prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty against Addie. The charge of armed criminal action in Missouri carries a minimum sentence of three years.


In the second phase of the trial, the jury returned with a recommendation of the maximum sentence of 20 years on count two of armed criminal action.

Judge Beetem will ultimately impose the sentence. He can sentence the defendant to less than 20 years on armed criminal action but he cannot exceed the jury’s recommendation.

Beetem also ordered a sentencing assessment report. The defense informs the court that Addie intends to invoke his right to remain silent when responding to questions for the assessment report about the facts of the case.

While being remanded into the court’s custody, Addie’s defense attorney showed his phone to the defendant, who broke down while being shackled and escorted out of the courtroom.

Sentencing has been set for June 29, 2021.


ORIGINAL STORY April 21, 2021

MONROE COUNTY, Mo. — A Missouri man living a double life is on trial for the shooting death of his bride-to-be.

James Addie, 54, is accused of killing 35-year-old Molly Watson two days before their impending vows in April 2018. Investigators say Addie, who was married to another woman at the time, murdered Watson to hide his affair from his wife of 22 years. Addie and Watson were reportedly romantically involved for seven years before their April 29th wedding date.

Watson’s body was discovered April 27 near a creek bed in a rural area of Monroe County. Prosecutors say she died from a gunshot wound to the head. Authorities narrowed in on Addie after a witness, who found Watson’s body, told them they had an “unusual conversation” with a man by the creek. A search of Addie’s home revealed his 2000 Mercury Sable matched tire tracks found at the scene.

Addie is facing charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

DAY 1 – April 26, 2021

  • Both sides deliver opening statements
  • Jury sees disturbing crime scene photos of Molly Watson’s body, which was partially unclothed from being dragged out of her car and into the road
  • Jury hears 911 call from motorist who discovered Molly Watson’s body about 30 minutes after driving by her car and encountering a man who said something
  • Evidence photos of wedding relics around Molly Watson’s home provide heartbreaking insight into the couple’s relationship and suggest she was really looking forward to her wedding
  • WATCH: 4/26/21 MO v. Addie: Day 1 in Review

DAY 2 – April 27, 2021

  • The defendant’s ex-wife testifies she had no idea he was cheating on her for seven years
  • The defendant’s daughter, Emma Addie, provides a different timeline for his whereabouts night of Watson’s slaying, one that places him outside of his home around the time Watson is believed to have been killed
  • Emma Addie also testifies that she made the T-shirt that was found in a field near the crime scene covered in Watson’s DNA
  • Event planner testifies Watson sent her an email five days before the couple’s wedding saying Addie’s ex-wife had died over the weekend after enduring a car accident four months earlier during Christmas
  • Data from Watson’s iPhone shows her talking on the phone to Addie while she drove from her home to the site where her body was found
  • Investigator attempts to connect .22-caliber projectile found in Watson’s head with .22-caliber rounds found in Addie’s home
  • Two jail inmates testify Addie said he was in custody for putting someone “face down in a ditch”
  • WATCH: 4/27/21 MO v. Addie: Biggest Moment of Day 2

DAY 3 – April 28, 2021

  • State rests its case
  • Defense rests without putting on a case; defendant declines to testify
  • Medical examiner shares cause of death: contact gunshot wound to the back of the head
  • Firearms and toolmark examiner testifies that ammo from defendant’s home is consistent with brand of ammo that would typically come in empty ammo box found in field next to victim’s phone
  • Firearms and toolmark examiner testifies that tire tread cast from crime scene is consistent with tire on defendant’s car
  • WATCH: 4/28/21 The Daily Sidebar: Testimony Ends in James Addie Trial

DAY 4 – April 29, 2021

James Addie is scheduled to be sentenced on June 29 for first-degree and armed criminal action in the 2018 death of his secret fiancée Molly Watson.

Thursday was supposed to be the couple’s three-year wedding anniversary. Instead, a Cole County jury of 8 women and four men deliberated for about 2.5 hours before reaching a guilty verdict for the 54-year-old former corrections officer. The jury recommended a 20-year-sentence for armed criminal action after hearing impact statements from the victim’s brother and son in the post-verdict punishment phase. The jury did not consider a sentence for first-degree murder because the offense carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole in Missouri.

The verdict came after three days of evidence and testimony in the state capitol of Jefferson City. Prosecutors from Monroe County and the state attorney’s office called 18 witnesses — including the defendant’s daughter and the ex-wife he cheated on for seven years — to support their theory that Addie was the only person with the motive and opportunity to kill Watson, who he met at the state prison when they both worked there. Prosecutors alleged Addie was living two lives on a collision course that came to a head with his impending marriage to Watson. Instead of breaking off the engagement, prosecutors said he lured her to a low-water ditch and shot her in the back of the head. Cell phone evidence showed Addie was the last person to speak to Watson as she drove from her home to the site of her death. A motorist allegedly interrupted Addie as he was disposing of Watson’s body, and she was found with her shirt pulled above her chest from being dragged through the road. Prosecutors tried to connect Addie to Watson’s death through two key pieces of evidence:

  • A t-shirt his daughter made that was found in a field — along with the victim’s cell phone — covered in the victim’s DNA and gunshot residue
  • A tire track at the crime scene that – according to a state forensic examiner — shared enough characteristics with a tire from the defendant’s car to be considered a match

Prosecutors also pointed to text messages from the week before Watson’s death as evidence of the defendant’s duplicitous behavior, describing some as “fake alibi texts” and others as flat-out lies to Watson.

Addie’s lawyer said he did not kill her and urged the jury to see reasonable doubt in the state’s case. Motorist Glen McSparren could not identify Addie as the man McSparren said he saw at the crime scene 30 minutes before finding Watson’s body; nor could McSparren identify the man’s car. The only firearm found in the investigation was one resting in plain sight in the defendant’s home, and it contained no DNA evidence. Addie’s DNA wasn’t found on the t-shirt, and was it really so hard to imagine why Watson might have a shirt from her fiancée’s home?

After the trial, the victim’s brother Tim Watson told Court TV he was glad the jury saw what his family had long suspected.

Court TV field producer Emanuella Grinberg contributed to this report.