James Ray
PHOTO COURTESY ESSEX COUNTY CORRECTIONAL FACILITY James Ray.

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

A Montclair man accused of killing his girlfriend in October is claiming self-defense.

James Ray III, 55, appeared in Essex County Superior Court on Monday, Nov. 26, before Judge Ronald Wigler. He is accused of shooting and killing 44-year-old Angela Bledsoe at their shared home in Montclair on Oct. 23. Ray is facing charges of murder and unlawful possession of a handgun.

Ray’s lawyer Thomas Ashley told Wigler that his client admitted to killing Blessoe, but it was in self defense, according to the prosecutor’s office.

The case is being overseen by Assistant Prosecutor Timothy Shaughnessy.

Wigler said he hadn’t heard anything as to why Ray shouldn’t remain in Essex County jail.

The detention hearing has been rescheduled twice due to changes in Ray’s representation and a need to extend the discovery period. At the Nov. 19.hearing, Ashley said he had copies of the affidavits in the case, as well as a written statement from Ray and the crime scene photos, but that he would need copies of crime scene diagrams, and any information regarding weapons.

The gun used in the shooting has not been recovered, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Ray was apprehended in Cuba on Oct. 28, just before he could go through Cuban customs. He was brought back to the United States on Nov. 6, and has been in custody at the Essex County Correctional Facility since that time.

Ray dropped his and Bledsoe’s 6-year-old daughter off with his brother before leaving the country. According to an affidavit in the case, Ray’s brother found a note in the child’s suitcase in which Ray confessed to killing Bledsoe over an affair he believed she was having. The letter also stated Ray was scared and wanted to avoid a long prison sentence. Ray’s brother called the Montclair police after finding the note, and police found Bledsoe at the couple’s house on North Mountain Avenue.