State of Missouri vs. John E. Winfield

Missouri Supreme Court Case Number SC81165

WinfieldJCase Facts:  In September 1996, John E. Winfield lived in a St. Louis County home one block from a second floor apartment where his ex-girlfriend and mother of his children, Carmelita Donald, lived. Living with Carmelita and her children were Carmelita’s sister, Melody Donald, and friend Arthea Sanders. In the apartment below them lived their friend, Shawnee Murphy, and her three children.

Winfield began dating Carmelita in 1989 and continued to have an on-and-off relationship with her through the spring of 1996. During that time, they had two children over whom they shared physical custody. In the late summer of 1996, Carmelita began dating Tony Reynolds. They succeeded in keeping that relationship a secret from Winfield for about a month. On the night of September 9, 1996, Carmelita went out for the evening with Reynolds. Meanwhile, Winfield began making a series of calls to Carmelita’s apartment asking Melody about her sister’s whereabouts and instructing her to have Carmelita call him when she returned home. Melody told Winfield that she did not know where Carmelita was.

Around midnight, Carmelita returned to the apartment with Tony Reynolds. They saw Winfield’s white Cadillac parked in front. To avoid trouble with Winfield, they drove to Reynolds’ female cousin’s house. There they persuaded her to drive Carmelita home. When the two women arrived back at Carmelita’s apartment, Winfield’s car was still there. As Carmelita started to climb the stairs to her apartment, Winfield came down, said he needed a word, and pushed her down the stairs. They walked outside, and Winfield asked Carmelita about her relationship with Tony Reynolds. Meanwhile, Arthea walked outside and slashed the tires on Winfield’s car. Upon her return to the downstairs apartment, Arthea told Melody to call the police and yelled outside, asking Carmelita if she was alright. Carmelita said she was fine. Despite Arthea’s request, Melody did not call the police.

A car door “slammed” shut. Melody assumed it was Winfield leaving. However, Winfield had run into the downstairs apartment, Carmelita in pursuit. From outside, she warned Arthea to run because Winfield was armed and coming to get her. Winfield entered Shawnee’s downstairs apartment and began chastising Arthea. He then shot her in the head. Then he walked outside and pointed the gun at Carmelita. Carmelita pleaded with him to no avail; he shot her several times. Although permanently blinded, Carmelita survived.

Meanwhile, Melody and James ran into Shawnee’s kitchen, hoping to escape through the back door. The door was jammed and would not open. Shawnee, while attempting to collect her children, began pleading with Winfield. Winfield shot her in the head. Next, Winfield turned and pointed the gun at Melody. She fell to the floor. Winfield pointed the gun at James and said, “[Y]ou next.” James grabbed the gun, and he began wrestling with Winfield. During this time, James heard the gun “click.” Winfield broke free and struck James with the gun. Winfield fled, and James attempted to follow. Melody escaped while James struggled with Winfield and ran to a neighbor’s house to call the police. An officer with the University City Police Department arrested Winfield at his home. Both Arthea Sanders and Shawnee Murphy died as a result of their wounds.