Life sentence for man who killed wife, dad and ex-girlfriend in jealous rage
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporteremail@example.com August 29, 2012 2:48PM
James Amison / photo from Cook County Sheriff's office
Updated: August 29, 2012 7:51PM
After shooting his wife, father and ex-girlfriend in a several hour span, James Amison allegedly boasted to authorities that he would have gunned down more if he hadn’t been caught.
But on Wednesday, the lifelong felon choked back on tears and apologized to relatives of the slain victims, telling his children, “I am a perfect example of what not to be.
“I don’t know what happened,” Amison, 40, said before Cook County Judge James Linn handed him five life sentences for murder, home invasion and armed robbery charges tied to the December 2009 crimes.
“If you could find it in your heart to forgive me, it would mean so much. I’m just so sorry for my actions. I wish I could bring them back.”
A jealous Amison embarked on what Linn called a “hellacious” spree because he thought his father and wife were having an affair.
Amison first “choked the life” out of his wife, Tashika Smith, 38, while her two daughters were still at home in south suburban Steger, assistant state’s attorney James McKay said.
Then Amison, who McKay called a “coward and sneak,” drove a stolen car to his father’s home in Maywood and shot him in the neck. James Johnson, who was paralyzed as a result, died several months later from his injuries.
After firing at his father, Amison drove to the South Side residence of his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Reed, 40, and shot and killed her. Amison murdered Reed because he believed she was trying to get him killed so she could cash out on a life insurance policy she had taken out for him, authorities said.
But he wasn’t done, prosecutors said.
Amison proceeded to The Factory, a South Side strip club, where he robbed a dancer at gunpoint before he was shot in the leg by a patron.
“It seemed like a wild man was on the loose,” Linn said.
Smith’s children, who thought she was sleeping on the couch when they saw her lifeless body, remain in therapy, Smith’s brother, Paxton Collins, said in court.
“As Tashika’s daughters get older, they look increasingly more like their mother, a mother that they will never get to hug again, and we as a family have to look at them daily and wonder what if,” he said.
Outside Linn’s courtroom Smith’s cousin Reginald Moore said his family accepted Amison’s apology but believed the harsh sentence was necessary.
“I do believe he was sincere,” Moore said. “His emotions were real.”
Amison has to serve three of his life sentences consecutively and two concurrently.
Linn also sentenced the felon for an additional 30 years for being an armed habitual criminal.