Convicted Memphis murderer granted stay of execution

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James Hawkins Jr.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis man convicted of killing his girlfriend and forcing his daughter to help him dismember the body was granted a stay of execution.

James Hawkins was convicted of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse in 2011 after stabbing and strangling Charlene Gaither, then dumping her body in DeSoto County in 2008.

Hawkins had been scheduled to die Wednesday.

Hawkins filed a petition for post-conviction relief March 20. It was granted April 11.

He is scheduled for a hearing before Judge Chris Craft on June 18.

The chief witness against Hawkins was his daughter, who was 12 when the murder occurred.

She testified that her father, who had repeatedly sexually abused her, forced her to help him put her mother’s body in a freezer and later hold her mother’s head as he decapitated the body. Hawkins said the girl committed the murder.


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