Allisha Watts case: Judge will not release murder suspect after autopsy ruled death 'undetermined'

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Monday, March 18, 2024
Allisha Watts murder suspect will not be released at this time
The attorney for James Dunmore, the man charged with the murder of his girlfriend Allisha Watts, is calling for his release in a motion filed

TROY, N.C. (WTVD) -- James Dunmore, the man accused of killing his girlfriend Allisha Watts, appeared in court Monday morning.

This comes after Dunmore's defense team filed a motion Friday asking the judge to release him.

The motion stems from the medical examiner's autopsy report that listed Watts' cause of death as "undetermined."

The judge denied that filing, saying that while the autopsy report found no cause of death, that was because of the extreme state of decomposition of Watts' body, not because of some evidence that clears Dunmore.

That ruling means Dunmore will remain behind bars on a $1 million bond.

"We still got a long road ahead, but today was a victory day," Bridget Cotton said.

Dozens of Watts' family and friends were at court Monday holding signs that read "I am Allisha Watts." They also applauded when the judge made his ruling.

Then, as Dunmore exited the courthouse, some of those supporters chanted her name at him and called him a killer.

The attorney for James Dunmore, the man charged with the murder of his girlfriend Allisha Watts, is calling for his release in a motion filed

Watts, 39, was found dead in August, after being last seen leaving Dunmore's Charlotte home on July 16.

Dunmore's defense argued that because the autopsy could not establish a cause or manner of death, the report casts doubt on the prosecution's case.

The motion to release stated that "without an expert able to state that the death of Ms. Watts was unnatural and/or not an accident, the State cannot survive their ultimate burden of proof with the Defendant and in light of the new evidence, Defendant should be released immediately by the Court pending the State's further investigation and or dismissal."

The prosecution pushed back on that by citing Dunmore's recent history of violence and circumstantial evidence that placed Dunmore with Watts around the time and location of her death.

So far, no witnesses have come forward and no murder weapon has been found.

The autopsy, which was completed on Aug. 29, could not find signs of "antemortem trauma," according to the motion. No evidence of fractures or other trauma was found during the postmortem examination, the autopsy showed.

Watts' body was in an advanced state of decomposition, with no visceral organs present, according to the autopsy, and that made it difficult to pinpoint a cause of death. Watts' remains were found buried along Cemetery Road in a rural area near the Montgomery-Richmond county line.

A toxicology report did not find any substances in her remains.

Meanwhile, Watts' family and friends gathered Friday for a second consecutive day in Moore County, holding a prayer vigil outside the county courthouse.

Friends and family held a vigil for Allisha Watts Thursday at a community center in Moore County.

Family members told ABC11 that they were frustrated after waiting months for autopsy results only to be told this week that Watts' cause of death was "undetermined."

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