Man charged with killing ex in South Memphis

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Police found a woman dead after responding to this apartment on Gaither.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis man with a lengthy history of violence has been charged with killing his ex and mother of his child at a South Memphis apartment complex Friday night.

James Nelson is charged with first-degree murder and being a felon in possession of a handgun, police said Saturday.

James Nelson

The situation unfolded in the 1400 block of Gaither Street shortly before 10 p.m. Friday.


Nelson, 43, is a convicted felon with a long rap sheet.

Online court records list dozens of cases against him over the years, from assault, to harassment and indecent exposure.

One relative, who didn’t want to be identified, tells WREG nelson was visiting his girlfriend when his ex showed up at her apartment and she and Nelson started arguing over custody of their child.

“Him and her got into it and he shot her upside the head,” he said. “He wouldn’t keep the daughter over here. The daughter wanted to stay, but he didn’t want the daughter to stay, so they got into it, got to fighting, tore the house up.”

Court records show Nelson was released from prison in 2002 after serving five years on a manslaughter charge for killing his half-sister in 1993.

Over the next 15 years, trouble followed him.

He was arrested again in 2011 for threatening his sister, and twice the following year for threatening, harassing and assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

In 2014, Nelson served nearly a year in jail for throwing his daughter out of a car during an argument.

A few months later, he was arrested again for assaulting his then-girlfriend and mother of his child at a convenience store.

Less than a year later, Nelson was ordered to complete community service, a domestic violence assessment and a batterer’s intervention program after attacking a police officer.

Last year, he did more time for harassing his mother. According to court documents, Nelson called her 17 times, threatening to shoot her and his sister.

Nelson is now charged with first-degree murder and being a felon in possession of a handgun.

If convicted, he could face life in prison.

WREG is still waiting on police to release the name of the victim.

Nelson is scheduled to face a judge Monday morning.