What the defense wants kept from jury in double murder trial

St. Augustine man charged with murdering wife & friend in 2015 rampage

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Lawyers for James Terry Colley, Jr. don’t want jurors to hear about their client’s history of domestic violence when he goes to trial next month for the murders of his estranged wife and her friend.

The defense filed a motion Monday to block what it calls “objectionable” testimony regarding the restraining order obtained by Colley’s wife, 36-year-old Amanda Colley, before she was killed. 

Colley, 38, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, two burglary counts and a count of aggravated stalking in the August 2015 shooting.

Jury selection is set to begin July 9 in Colley's trial. He faces the death penalty if convicted, or a life sentence in the event of a non-unanimous verdict.

“Introduction of such testimony or documentary evidence regarding any of the above would violate the defendant’s right to a fair trial,” defense attorney Garry Wood wrote, arguing it would taint the jury.

Authorities said Amanda Colley and Lindy Dobbins, 39, were shot dead when James Colley stormed the couple’s St. Johns County home Aug. 27, 2015. Two others at the home escaped without harm.

Monday’s motion is noteworthy because Colley was in court that morning over a violation of the restraining order, which accused him of burning his wife’s clothes in the yard, among other claims.

The judge in that hearing ordered Colley, who previously signed court papers testifying he did not own any guns, to stay away from his wife. He was given a 60-day suspended sentence.

But immediately following the hearing, Colley went to his father’s home to get a gun and then drove to the couple’s home where he carried out the shooting, authorities said.

Dobbins was fatally shot as she and another friend, Rachel Hendricks, hid in a closet. Amanda Colley was slain as she took cover inside a bathroom.

A likely motive

Evidence released so far in the case suggests the couple, who shared two children, were dealing with a fraying marriage. Colley, for instance, was suspicious his wife seeing another man, Lamar Douberly.

He made his suspicions known in text messages sent to Amanda Colley in the days leading up to the shooting, questioning why the other man took steps to avoid being seen at the home.

"Oh and your boyfriend has been parking at the playground and walking around the back. The whole nahborjood hood (sic) knows!!!!" he said. " ... You should just have him park out front like a man."

To which Amanda Colley replied: "He's not my boyfriend like I've told you before. He helps me with the yard work, paint, moving furniture, etc."

Colley was looking for Douberly, one of four people inside the couple's home, when he walked up through the backyard and opened fire into the residence, authorities said.

"Where is he?" Colley yelled as he searched for Douberly, who fled the home after gunshots rang out.

Multi-state manhunt

The sudden violence at the upscale home near World Golf Village spawned a massive manhunt that thrust nearby schools into lockdown. Authorities were looking for Colley's Infiniti convertable.

Deputies stopped by a home on Garrison Drive, where Colley had been living during the separation, but they found no sign of him there. They issued a nationwide alert to be on the lookout for him.

It wasn't until hours later that the 38-year-old was arrested following a traffic stop in Norton, Virginia, after another driver reported nearly being run off the road. He was later extradited to Florida.

About the Authors: