Pride set to accept plea bargain from county for stabbing murder

Steve Chapman

James J. Pride

Victim’s family unhappy with life sentence offer for mother’s murderer who could be freed by age 63
Officially, James J. Pride is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and tampering with physical evidence in the stabbing death of Patricia L. Urange in May of 2020. However, that is set to change on Wednesday, Oct. 13.
Pride, 41, is expected to plead guilty to second-degree murder as part of a plea-bargain when he appears in court on Oct. 13. In return, the charges of armed criminal action and tampering will be dismissed, and he will be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Don Trotter, Lawrence County prosecuting attorney, who confirmed that the deal had been offered, said it was the best way to ensure that Pride served a substantial prison sentence.
“You don’t always win, and evidence doesn’t always come in (how) you like it,” he said.

Urange’s family displeased with deal
However, Trish Chastain, Urange’s daughter, said she and her family feel like Pride is getting off too easily.
“I think it’s despicable,” she said. “He’ll be serving 21-and-a-quarter years, which means he’ll be in his early 60s when he gets out. I’m going to be 53 years old, and that’s the same age my mom was when he stabbed her 17 times and left her for dead. I don’t think it’s justice at all. I think he’s a dangerous person.”

Allegations of abusive behavior
Chastain also said that Trotter is refusing to speak to her or her family about the case any longer, other than to tell them when the court dates are regarding Pride’s case; she produced a letter dated Sept. 7  in which Trotter stated that she had made “false accusations” against the prosecutor’s office, and also stated that Chastain and her family had been “abusive and argumentative” with the staff as they had “spent hours yelling at” them.
Chastain said the events leading up to this started in the summer, when she learned about the plea bargain.
“In July, I called them, because I hadn’t heard an update about the case,” she said. “I called them, and spoke with (Trotter) for less than eight minutes. (He) informed me that the second-degree murder plea was being offered. I was very shocked, because we were assured it was first-degree.”
A few weeks later, she said, she requested a meeting with Trotter. She stated she said somethings at the meeting she probably shouldn’t have, but denied that she was abusive towards the staff.
“I wasn’t there that long,” she said, “and Trotter told me that a jury is unreliable, and he thought this was justice. I was really emotional, I know I said some cuss words, but I did not verbally abuse anybody in that office.”
After that, Chastain said, she spoke with her brother, who she said then got involved.
“I don’t know what was said between my brother and anyone at the Prosecutor’s Office, but I received that letter,” she said.

Plea bargain considered best possible outcome
Trotter confirmed he sent the letter to Chastain, and said he did so because she was being abusive to his staff. He said he tried to explain his reasoning for the plea-bargain to Chastain and her family, but to no avail.
“Considering all the facts and the evidence that I’ve got, there is the possibility that this could have been a lot less,” he said. “It could have dropped all the way down to voluntary or non-voluntary manslaughter, which could have been a lot less, and I tried to explain that to the family.”

Trotter said he won’t endure abusive behavior
Additionally, Trotter defended his decision to no longer communicate with Chastain, stating that the abuse he and his staff received was too much.
“We let it go for several weeks, but … my staff doesn’t deserve that. I listened to it, and I took it for hours at a time. I’m not going to have my staff abused like that, and we’re not going to communicate with her.”
Trotter added that Chastain and her family’s concern for Urange comes a little late.
“They’re really upset now,” he said, “but they weren’t when she died, and they weren’t before she died, when she was in all this mess. So, they didn’t really care about their mom when she was alive.”

Case background
Patricia Urange, 53, was found dead in her car on May 24, 2020. According to the probable cause statement in the case, a witness told Lawrence County deputy sheriff’s that James Pride admitted to the killing.
“James Pride told me he stabbed Pat because she was evil,” the witness was quoted as saying in the probable cause statement. “He (took) me to the car and showed me, and then I called the police.” According to the probable cause statement, the witness also said Pride told her that “he was going to cut her up and put her in a hole or pond.”
The deputies found Pride and took him to the sheriff’s office. In the probable cause statement, a detective with the LCSO reported that in a post-Miranda interview, Pride was asked if he had a cellphone, and he replied he left it in a car parked in the same location where Urange’s body was found. The detective also reported a cellphone was found in the vehicle as Urange’s body was being removed.
Pride, who was on probation at the time of Urange’s murder, is currently being held at the Jefferson City Correctional Center, where he is serving a five-year sentence for burglary, possession of a controlled substance and property damage.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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