Trial begins for former Montclair lawyer accused of killing girlfriend in their home

James Ray is accused of fatally shooting Angela Bledsoe inside their Montclair home on Oct. 22, 2018.

Matt Trapani and Chris Keating

Mar 29, 2023, 9:20 PM

Updated 481 days ago


Opening arguments began Wednesday for the trial of a former Montclair attorney accused of killing his girlfriend in their home four years ago.
James Ray is trying to beat a murder charge and the possibility of a life sentence in the killing of Angela Bledsoe. His defense attorneys admit that Ray shot and killed Bledsoe, but they claim it was self-defense and that Bledsoe was pointing a 9 mm gun at him.
“When confronted by Angela with a gun pointing directly at him, he had no choice but to shoot,” said defense attorney Brooke Barnett.
Brook Barnett wasted no time in claiming that Bledsoe wanted out of the relationship with Ray.
“Angela has grown to hate, even despise. She has disdain for James,” Barnett said.
The defense stated Bledsoe wanted to move to Florida with their 6-year-old daughter to pursue an affair she’d been having with a married man named Bakari Burns.
“She wanted to go to Florida to get her shot with Bakari Burns, and the only shot she had to take him away from his wife and two children was getting back to Florida,” Barnett said. “I submit that was the only reason why Angela Bledsoe, in 2018, picked up that gun and pointed it towards James.”
Forensics shows that Bledsoe was shot three times to the chest, face and back. It is a fact that Assistant Prosecutor Michele Miller pointed out while saying Bledsoe was moving on from the relationship with Ray and out of the house. Miller says that Ray couldn’t take it.
“Angela would complain that he was controlling and demeaning. Didn’t respect her," Miller said. “He was sending her Bible verses on how a woman should be submissive to her man.”
Bledsoe was killed on Oct. 22, 2018. On that day, she had a meeting with a realtor. It was an appointment she was not able to keep. The prosecution says Ray killed Bledsoe, eventually took his daughter to live with his brother in Pennsylvania and then fled. He would be arrested in Cuba six days later.
“While her body was bleeding out and getting cold from death, this attorney and former U.S. Marine was preparing for a life in obscurity in the hope of taking refuge in the nonextraditing country of Cuba,” said Miller.
The prosecution has already started calling witnesses. One police detective has already testified. They’re now speaking with Ray’s brother Robert Ray.
The jury is made up of 11 men and four women.

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