Girl testifies her father forced her help in dismembering dead mother - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Kenney

Girl testifies her father forced her help in dismembering dead mother

James Hawkins James Hawkins

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis man accused of killing his girlfriend and cutting off her head, feet, and hands faced a judge Wednesday.

James Hawkins is accused of killing his longtime girlfriend, Charlene Gaither, and then dismembering her body before dumping it in Coldwater Creek in rural DeSoto County, Mississippi.

At a hearing Wednesday, the couple's 12-year-old daughter testified about what happened leading up to the day police found Gaither's body. 

The couple's daughter told the judge that during an argument, her father got a knife from their kitchen and stabbed Gaither in the neck before ultimately choking her to death.

Afterwards, she said, her father made her help cut off her mother's head.  Then she helped cut off Gaither's hands and feet.  The 12-year-old said she then rode along with her father into DeSoto County, where they dumped Gaither's body.

The girl said her father discarded her mother's hands and feet at nearby factory, and threw her head into some water under a bridge.

Also Wednesday, Memphis Police Sergeant Tony Mullins testified that Hawkins bought a circular saw, used to dismember the body, at a local K-Mart. 

Hawkins later returned the saw to the store, Mullins said.

When police originally interviewed the 12-year-old, she told them she didn't know what happened to her mom. Defense Attorneys argued that she didn't tell police her current story until two days later, when police handcuffed her and threatened to charge her in her mom's murder.

The judge ruled to send the case to a grand jury at the conclusion of Wednesday's hearing.

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