Boyfriend of Allisha Watts appears in court on murder charge

James Dunmore is suspected of killing Watts on July 16.
James Dunmore is charged with murder in connection with the discovery of the body of missing...
James Dunmore is charged with murder in connection with the discovery of the body of missing Moore County woman Allisha Watts.(Source: Montgomery County Jail)
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 5:12 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2023 at 3:49 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - New details were revealed about Allisha Watts’ alleged killer during his court appearance Thursday.

Watts, who was believed to have been killed on July 16, was reported missing on July 18 in Charlotte. She had been in the city visiting her boyfriend, James Dunmore, when she was last seen at his home.

For weeks, search parties and law enforcement worked to find the Moore County woman. More than a month after her disappearance, Watts’ body was found behind a cemetery in Montgomery County on Aug. 24.

Investigators determined Dunmore as a suspect in the case and arrested him in Charlotte. He was later moved to Montgomery County, where he is still being held.

On Thursday a probable cause hearing was held in the Montgomery County Courthouse. Dunmore was brought into the courtroom by deputies, He was wearing a black and white striped jail jumpsuit, a face mask, and was handcuffed and shackled.

Prosecutors called several witnesses, including investigators from agencies involved with the case. During Dunmore’s court appearance, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Detective Childers with the Missing Persons Unit said that he went to visit Dunmore’s sister while Dunmore was in the hospital for a suicide attempt.

Childers said that when Dunmore was located in Watts Mercedes in the parking lot of the DMV in Polkton, that he had overdosed while attempting suicide with blood pressure medication.

Dunmore was taken to Atrium Health in Monroe to be treated.

James Dunmore is suspected of killing Watts on July 16.

According to Childers, Dunmore’s sister had gotten the key fob to the Mercedes when she went to visit him in the hospital. She went to the vehicle and removed several items, according to testimony.

Those items were later given to Childers, and included a bag containing muddy clothes and muddy shoes mixed with vegetation that Childers described as pine needles.

Childers also talked about what happened when he went to visit Dunmore in the hospital. He noted Dunmore was sweating and breathing rapidly. Dunmore allegedly told detectives that he wanted to watch TV and that he didn’t think he should speak to them without a lawyer.

Childers also said he spoke with Dunmore’s wife, who separated from him after a relationship of 15 years in March. Childers said the wife described Dunmore as “controlling, manipulative, calculating.”

Artee Bruton, Dunmore’s wife, took the stand in the probable cause hearing on Thursday. She had a difficult time testifying, crying and having to stop several times.

During her testimony, Bruton said that Dunmore was physically abusive and given to severe anger. She described a night after their separation in which she said that Dunmore kidnapped, choked, and sexually assaulted her while driving her around in a car for several hours.

During that time, she said that Dunmore looked at her and said “I should murder your a**, I should murder your a** right now.”

She also testified that she believed that Dunmore had set fire to her BMW and placed a tracking device in her Honda. Bruton filed an arson report after her car was burned.

There was also testimony from Daniel Poplin. Poplin is a paramedic who coordinates the EMS training program and also works as a county medical examiner.

Poplin was called to the scene where Watts remains were found. He said in court that his preliminary opinion on the cause of death of Allisha Watts involved blunt force and strangulation, based on injuries to her skull.

Poplin pointed out that the official cause of Watts death had not been determined. That ruling will come from the State medical Examiner’s Office.

Once the hearing was concluded on Thursday, the court found probable cause that Dunmore murdered Watts on or around July 18.

Dunmore is charged with Watts’ murder and first appeared in court in late August, when he was denied bond. The motive of the killing remains unclear, as does Watts’ cause of death.

Related: Boyfriend of Allisha Watts charged with murder, denied bond in court appearance

Dot Brewer, a family friend of Watts’, spoke after Thursday’s court hearing.

“I do believe that we have witnessed some very good work that has been done since Allisha was reported missing,” Brewer said.

When asked how it felt to be in the courtroom with Dunmore, Brower replied: “I try not to even look in his direction because he is stoned and there is no reaction, so I really don’t want to focus on him and right now he’s just not there.”

Brewer said it was difficult to listen to the testimony on Thursday.

“No one, not even an animal, should be tossed out like that,” Brewer said.

Dunmore is due in court again in Montgomery County on October 23.

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