There are two kinds of murder – premeditated and pure and simple killing in the heat of the moment, “the kind that happens in a bar,” said a homicide investigator with many years of experience.
The capital murder for which James Brossett is charged in the killing of his ex-girlfriend Laura Patschke is not only the kind that is so difficult to prevent because of its secretive and planned nature – a home invasion in the middle of the night, an attack with a firearm that menaces an entire family – it is one of those very rare murders that could well have been prevented.
“It’s rare that law enforcement can prevent a homicide because of its unpremeditated nature and its spontaneity.” But then there is the other kind of murder. Those are “so well-planned, so very secretive” that it is very difficult to predict when and where a killing may take place. Investigators are left to pick up the pieces and see where they fit a pattern, to identify a suspect by process of elimination, starting with the last to see the victims alive, to methodically clear all those closest to the deceased.
With every evolution of his threatening, menacing behavior, “He was escalating,” said the retired detective. “He was escalating in his violent ideas.”
What’s more, everyone involved on the law enforcement side of the equation knew it. “He told the cops; he told the courts; he told his victim.” The evidence to support that conclusion is clear. Follow the paper trail. The courts have a very complete record of the pattern of escalating abuse. It unfolded over a period of months.
Protective orders and warrants for his arrest did nothing to stop his calculating plans for violence against his once beloved soul mate.
“If law enforcement in McLennan County had bothered to listen, they could have prevented this killing.”
How? By serving the arrest warrants, officers could have caused him to be charged. With those charges would have come conditions of bond set by the Jail Magistrate, a licensed attorney who is paid $86,000 a year, including electronic monitoring. Violation of the electronic boundaries surrounding his stated victim, if breached, would have notified every mobile data terminal in every squad car within radio range.
“Law enforcement should have put him down long ago.”
With rueful logic, the old timer asked the rhetorical question. “After the horse was out of the barn, who did the Sheriff (Parnell McNamara) reach out to? The U.S. Marshal’s Service. He called their operation out of Dallas to track this man. I’ll bet you they simply tracked his cell phone to locate him in Burleson.”
He listed the resources available to the Sheriff’s Office. There is one deputy who is seconded to the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force, a federal strike force made up of officers from local agencies, supervised by the Marshal’s Service. A new three-man squad called Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team is busy learning their task. Then there is a squad of detectives and uniformed officers who cover three shifts daily.
Sheriff McNamara is retired from the Marshal’s Service. During the latter half of his career, he was the Deputy Marshal in Charge of the Waco office of the service, operating out of headquarters for the Western District of Texas at San Antonio.
Contacted for information about the manhunt as it unfolded, he told The Legendary in a phone interview, “I won’t have time to talk to you about any of this.”
He doesn’t have to. Any well-seasoned homicide investigator knows how to interpret the laconic notation, complete with case and arrest warrant numbers, beside the name of James Brossett, entered in the booking information on the publicly available jail listing for the McLennan County Jail:
BROSSETT,JAMES RAY 7/07/2015 CAPITAL MURDER MSO 15-1782 15-1782-W1
7/07/2015 ATTEMPTED CAPITAL MURDER MSO 15-1782 15-1782-W2
7/07/2015 STALKING MSO 15-1747 J11F15-154
7/07/2015 VIOL BOND/PROTECTIVE ORDR MSO 15-1747 J11M15-261