St. Paul man attacked stepson with ax, charges say
By Richard Chin
ST. PAUL - A 62-year-old St. Paul man who works as a fourth-grade teacher for Minneapolis Public Schools tried to kill his 40-year-old stepson with an ax, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court.
“Well, I grabbed an ax out of the garage and I tried to kill my wife’s son,” Mark Revere James told police, according to the complaint. “I swung the ax at him and I wanted to kill the (expletive) and I missed.”
The complaint, which charges James with first- and second-degree attempted murder, said James did strike the stepson in the face with the ax in the incident Sunday morning at James’ St. Paul home.
According to the complaint:
Police found the victim with blood streaming down his face from a cut. The stepson’s 18-month-old toddler was in the house during the attack.
James said he was enraged at his stepson after finding out he had used James’ credit card to charge $150 to download Android games.
The victim told police he was sleeping in the basement bedroom of the home of his mother and his stepfather Sunday morning when James awakened him saying, “It’s 7:40. You got 10 minutes to get out of here!”
James said, “You think I’m not serious?” and then he attacked the victim’s art supplies and easel with an ax, the complaint said.
“Now you got 7 minutes! You better hurry!” James said.
The victim said he tried to reason with James, saying that he had his toddler with him. But James jabbed the stepson in the shoulder with the ax, saying, “You still don’t think I’m serious?” He then jabbed the stepson in the face, cutting his cheek, the complaint said.
James initially told police he woke up the stepson to tell him he had to get out of the house, but he denied he hit the victim with an ax.
He later said he had tried to kill the stepson, whom he described to police as “a thieving, lying sack of (expletive) that has been living in our basement for five months.”
James said he had been full of rage for months. He said the stepson “(expletive) started stalling” when he demanded that he get out of the house. He said he told the stepson he was going to kill him, but not the 18-month-old.
Asked to describe how he struck at the stepson with the ax, James told police, “I had two hands on it and I swung it at him like in a half-chop motion, like you would at a baseball.”
He said he aimed the ax at the stepson’s head. Asked how the victim was cut if he missed hitting him, James said, “I must of caught him. He must of pulled his head back,” the complaint said.
James said the stepson told James he had just committed an assault, and James said he replied, “(Expletive). Great. Call the cops. I don’t mind going to jail.”
He then added, “You know what? When the cops leave, I’m going to come back and kill you then,” the complaint said.
When police asked James if he had anything else to say, he replied, “Yeah. Don’t let me go, ’cuz if he’s still in the house when I get back I will (expletive) kill him.”
The stepson left the home and called police from a neighbor’s house.
When police arrived, they arrested James as he left the house; they found the 18-month-old toddler safe in his crib.
The victim told police that he, his wife and their two sons had moved into the home of the victim’s mother and stepfather in October.
He said his younger son died in the home at 3 months of age, according to the complaint. He said his wife and his 18-month-old son were planning to move out at the end of February, but their child’s death extended their stay, and because the stepson got pneumonia and had to have surgery. The stepson said James had assaulted him previously by throwing him to the ground about 15 years ago.
The stepson said his wife was in Duluth and his mother was at work at the time of the attack.
James is a fourth-grade teacher at Anishinabe Academy in Minneapolis. He is now on administrative leave, according to a Minneapolis Public Schools spokeswoman. He has worked for the district since 2007 and has no history of discipline, according to the school district.
At an initial appearance Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court, James’ lawyer, Joshua Tripp, said James has no prior criminal convictions. He asked that bail be set at $25,000. He said the stepson has left the St. Paul home and is in Duluth.
Judge Gail Chang Bohr set bail at $150,000.