James Barry (21) was stabbed to death inside his mother’s Loxahatchee, Florida home during the early morning hours of November 17th, 2016. James’ mother’s boyfriend, Guy Hand, awoke that morning to the sound of James screaming. Guy ran into James’ bedroom and found him fatally wounded on his bed. It was clear that James had been stabbed, and the assailant had already fled the scene. Guy attempted to CPR to no avail; James died before the paramedics were able to get to him.
Three days later, James’ ex-girlfriend Melanie Eam (20) was arrested for his murder. Police found her at her family’s home in Silver Spring, Maryland—where she reportedly fled after committing the crime. While investigating James’ death, police learned that James and Melanie had recently broken up after being in a relationship for two years. James reportedly ended the relationship via text message. After being taken into custody, Melanie admitted to stabbing James in a fit of rage. The confession was recorded, and in the recording a detective is heard asking Melanie how many times she stabbed James. Melanie replied, “I don’t know, it’s not like I counted.” When the detective asked her why she stabbed him, she explained that “he set me off” when he decided to end the relationship through text instead of in person.
Despite confessing to the crime, Melanie still pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. Her defense team pointed the finger at Guy, the boyfriend of James’ mother. Melanie’s lawyers cast suspicion on Guy because he moved the murder weapon after the police arrived at the home. Guy stated he found the 13 and ½ inch butcher knife on the bedside table in James’ room, and he moved it so nobody else would get hurt. He also reportedly washed one of his blood-soaked hands. The defense claimed that Melanie and Guy got into an argument, and that James stepped in-between the two of them and was then accidentally stabbed by Guy.
Melanie’s defense likely created reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors, as a mistrial was declared in September 2018. However, Melanie was retried in early January 2019, and this time around she was found guilty. She was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
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