CHESTER, SC (WBTV) - A judge denies bond to a Chester County man accused of murdering his wife and staging it to look like she died in a car accident.
James Baldwin, 59, is being held in the Chester County Jail without bond until he stands trial for murder.
According to Deputy Solicitor Candice Lively, Baldwin was arrested in August of 2018 after a grand jury indicted him for murder. He’s accused of killing his wife, 53-year-old Judy Orr, on December 14, 2016.
According to the factual basis of the case that was read in court, Baldwin called 911 at 11:04 p.m. Officers responded to what appeared to be a vehicle accident on a rural Chester County road.
“He (Baldwin) was kneeling on the side of the road and begging them to save his wife,” Lively said. “She was actually in a creek, down off the road and close to a bridge on a rural road in Chester County.”
Baldwin reportedly told EMTs that he tried to give Orr CPR, but she was pronounced dead on the scene. South Carolina Highway Patrol investigating the incident and later ruled there was no accident. Lively said in court that investigators found no evidence of an accident and no evidence that Baldwin gave his wife CPR. The autopsy report showed Orr had died of blunt force trauma.
According to the autopsy report, Lively says Orr had a 2-inch laceration beneath her eye, a 4-inch scalp hemorrhage, a 3-inch laceration over her eye scalp and a 9 and a half-inch-fracture from the laceration on her eye to the back of her skull.
“According to the pathologist she would have died or would have been symptomatic within minutes,” Lively said.
When investigators determined Orr did not die in a motorcycle accident, they went to Baldwin’s home. Lively says investigators determined blood had been cleaned up inside the house.
Lively went on to say that Baldwin was a former police officer in York County and knows the system. She claims he used his knowledge to cover up the brutal beating death of his wife.
Orr’s two sons spoke to the Judge Daniel Hall in court. They begged him to deny Baldwin bond. They say they are fearful that Baldwin will hurt their families if he’s released.
“My mother did not deserve to die the way that she did,” The victim’s son Joshua Orr said. “She was supposed to enjoy a long happy life where she could enjoy her grandchildren or even her great grandchildren. This was all stolen from her by a selfish, greedy, narcissist who had been controlling my mother for several years. He is a man who has no value for human life, and I believe he would do anything to anyone who gets in his way.”
“James Baldwin Jr. is a man who has beaten the system his entire life, he has hurt people his entire life. My mother fell victim to this manipulative brainwashing character,” Christopher Orr said.
Judge Daniel Hall also received 20 letters from family members and friends of Judy Orr, requesting him to deny Baldwin’s bond.
Deputy Solicitor Candace Lively told the court that before Baldwin was arrested for murder in August of 2018, he was arrested for arson and insurance fraud in York County. Lively says he’s accused of lighting the home he lived in on fire.
A judge in York County granted Baldwin bond on the two charges. He was out on bail before his arrest for murder.
Baldwin’s attorney, Philip Jamieson, told Judge Daniel Hall that Baldwin is not a danger to the public because he had been out in the community for nearly two years after his wife was killed and he hadn’t been in trouble.
“He had almost two years to do almost anything he wanted to do and what he chose to do was be a law-abiding citizen,” Jamieson said.
The defense also disputing some of the facts in the case that Lively brought up in court.
“I’ve read the report and there’s nothing in that report that says the accident was staged,” Jamieson said. “I’ve also read the discovery and there is nothing in that discovery that says blood was cleaned up prior to investigators arriving.”
Baldwin’s daughter also spoke to the court. She said she is in control of her father’s finances and if released on bond, he would live with her in York County.
“It’s also been said that people are worried about him hurting them or others if he were out on bond,” Baldwin’s daughter said. “This is far from the truth; my father has never hurt anyone. He has no history of violence toward anyone and I have no reason to believe these people are in any danger if my father gets out on bond.”
After listening to several friends and family members of both the defendant and the victim, Judge Daniel Hall denied Baldwin bond. He will remain in Chester County Detention Center until he stands trial. No trial date has been set.
In a previous hearing, a judge ordered Baldwin to undergo a mental evaluation due to a previous motorcycle accident. Lively states that Baldwin was found to have no intellectual disabilities and is mentally fit to stand trial.