Crime

Lummi man gets two years after repeatedly beating wife

A Lummi man accused of slamming his wife’s head through a wall was sentenced to two years in federal prison Tuesday, Aug. 18.

Lonnie Jess James Sr., 50, assaulted his estranged wife in November 2014 when he thought she had a boyfriend, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

The woman reported that James entered her house on Lummi Reservation and began punching her, throwing her around the room and slamming her head on the floor. When she tried to call 911, he shoved her into drywall, which had a hole where she hit it, charges say.

James took off before a Lummi Nation police officer arrived, but a police dog eventually found him nearby.

Court records show that James pleaded guilty to three separate charges of third-degree domestic violence assault and battery over the span of eight years in Lummi Tribal Court:

▪  In August 2007, he hit his wife and used a wooden board to break down a door as his children dialed 911. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, with 165 days suspended.

▪  In July 2011, he hit his wife on the cheek and was sentenced to 200 days in jail, with 170 days suspended.

▪  In November 2013, he grabbed his wife and threw her against a door. He was sentenced to 360 days in jail with 300 days suspended.

After he assaulted his wife again a year later, James was charged with domestic assault by a habitual offender in U.S. District Court. He pleaded guilty as charged in May.

U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour sentenced James on Tuesday to three years of supervised release to follow his two-year prison term. The standard sentencing range is 30 to 37 months imprisonment.

James is the third person prosecuted by the Western District of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for domestic abuse by a habitual offender.

“This defendant was prosecuted multiple times by Lummi Tribal authorities and did not get the message that he had to stop,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “The federal sentence imposed in this case makes clear — we will not tolerate intimate partner violence in our tribal communities.”

According his sentencing documents, James told his attorneys that he wanted to get help, adding, “I’m not myself during these arguments. I’m scared. I feel like a bad person. I’m really sorry that I did it.”

Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or wilson.criscione@bellinghamherald.com.

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