Molly Watson was two days away from marrying her lover of seven years, James Addie, when a motorist found her dead body on a rural Missouri road. Roughly thirty minutes before the motorist discovered the body, he’d seen a man acting suspiciously around the site. The man turned out to be Molly’s fiancé, James Addie.
Addie became the key suspect in Molly’s murder. As investigators dug deeper, they uncovered a web of deceit spun by Addie for seven years that would have unraveled if the wedding had happened as planned.
Molly Watson’s story will feature in an early 2021 episode of 20/20.
Molly Watson was murdered because her fiancé wanted to hide his double life
Molly and James Addie had dated for seven years and were set to wed two days before her murder. Evidence shows that Molly was excited about the wedding and the prospect of spending her life with Addie.
Unfortunately, Watson didn’t know that Addie led a double life: he was married to Melanie Addie and lived with his kids in a rural Missouri home. Addie’s potential marriage to Molly would have been illegal, leading to the exposure of his deception.
Instead of telling the truth, Addie killed Molly. “Molly Watson had her dream wedding planned down to the last detail,” Assistant State Attorney General, Katherine Dolin, said in her opening statement. “But her fiancé was living two lives.”
“James was living two separate lives… and set those two lives on a collision course.” Melanie Addie had no knowledge of her ex-husband’s seven-year affair. James kept two phones: One to communicate with Melanie and the other to communicate with Molly.
The defense argued that the state didn’t have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that James Addie killed Molly Watson. Defense attorney T.J. Kirsch said in his opening statement:
“Fill in the gaps, that’s what the state of Missouri is going to ask you to do. Jim had an affair with someone he actually loved. The evidence will show that because he had that affair, law enforcement jumped to a conclusion. Before knowing all of the relevant facts, law enforcement jumped to a conclusion.”
However, Addie’s guilt seemed clear from the outset. His wife of over two decades, Melanie, and daughter, Emma, who said that James got home later than usual and wore a bloodied shirt, testified against James.
Addie shed tears before Emma took the stand, but it didn’t change her testimony. The prosecution took a hit when a tire-mark expert testified that he couldn’t determine if the marks found at the scene matched James’ car.
The defense didn’t present a case, instead relying on their initial argument that the prosecution didn’t present enough evidence to support a guilty verdict. It took the jury only 2 ½ hours to find James Addie guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in Molly Watson’s death.
James Addie was sentenced to life in prison without parole
The prosecution rubber-stamped James Addie’s first-degree murder conviction when they proved premeditation. Prosecuting Attorney Talley Smith testified that James directed Molly from her home 20 minutes away to the low water creek crossing, where he shot her in the back of the head.
“The defendant was a coward when she was alive, and he was the coward who could not look at her in the eye when he killed her,” Smith said. “Molly Watson does not get to celebrate her three-year anniversary today, but you have the power to give her justice.”
Melanie Addie said that she learned about James’ affair after police showed up at her house in late April 2018.
James’ attorney insisted that the prosecution didn’t prove the murder case. “Your doubts are reasonable that James did not kill Molly,” Kirsch said. “Jim is not on trial for adultery. He did have an affair. An affair does not make a murderer.”
Perhaps the most damning testimony came from Molly’s brother, Tim, and her son, Declan. In the years after Molly’s murder, Tim had lost their mother and father. Tim told the jury to show James Addie no mercy:
“I truly believe if she had chosen to break up with her instead of murder… I would still have my sister, my mom and my dad. I just ask, plead with the jury, to give this monster the max sentence possible. He chose to take her life without mercy. I ask the jury not to have mercy on him.”
Katherine Dolin read Declan’s statement in court. Declan described Molly as imperfect but stated that she made the right decisions for him. The worst decision she made, however, was ‘believing in and trusting’ James. The statement concluded:
“In a way, you took something from both of us. You took away my mom from me and you took away her son from her. Here is the bottom line. You now have to face the consequences of your actions, and I hope you know have to face them every day for the rest of your life.”
James was initially sentenced to 20 years for the armed criminal action charge. He was then sentenced to life in prison plus ten years on the first-degree murder charge. In a desperate attempt to save his skin, Addie asked the judge for a new trial, citing attorney inaction. James pleaded:
“I discussed numerous things with him that he said he would take under his advisement as far as evidence to show this or evidence to show that. During the entire trial he failed to represent anything I brought forward.”