Jason M. House, 49, Caulfield, convicted April 10 of first-degree murder and seven other felonies related to the 2016 shooting death of his estranged wife, has been sentenced to life in prison without parole on all eight counts by 37th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Steven Privette.
House had waived a jury trial and his bench trial was judged by Privette at the Howell County Courthouse.
Four of the life sentences are consecutive. Besides the murder House was also charged with three counts of armed criminal action, first-degree domestic assault with serious physical injury, first-degree assault or attempted assault, first-degree endangering the welfare of a child and creating a substantial risk, and resisting arrest for a felony.
Bobbi Jean McGhee House, 34, died of a single gunshot wound to the back of the head Oct. 7, 2016, as she was leaving McDonald’s following a visit with her 11-year-old daughter. House is the father of that child.
He was allegedly angered when he saw a man McGhee House was believed to be romantically involved with, and retrieved a pistol from his pickup truck before shooting her and continuing to fire at the other man’s vehicle as he drove away from the scene.
House then fled with his daughter and led lawmen on a high speed chase down west U.S. 160 that ended on about 12 miles west of West Plains.
House’s defense lawyer, Dee Wampler III of Springfield, said he intends to file for a new trial. In his closing statement during the trial, Wampler said he didn’t believe the state made the case for a first-degree murder conviction and that House acted under “sudden passion” rather than with deliberation, calling for nothing higher than a second-degree conviction.
After McGhee House was fatally wounded, House continued to fire shots toward Robert Allen Raines as Raines escaped the scene in his vehicle, striking the car inches away from Raines’ head. Raines was reportedly romantically involved with McGhee House.
Privette addressed a courtroom audience of about 35 friends and family of Bobbi McGhee House and Jason House and about eight law enforcement officers, some of whom had testified in the case or been part of the investigation.
“I want folks to know this was hard, and there was a premeditation issue and I will get to that,” Privette began, before announcing House’s guilt.
In explaining why he convicted House of first-degree murder, which has to show deliberation and intent, Privette agreed with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Rizwhan Ahad’s argument that House’s actions met the legal qualifications for transfer of intent.
Part of House’s defense was that he had not intended to kill Bobbi, but she got in his way and was accidentally shot as he was trying to fire at Raines.
“There is no doubt the defendant intended to kill Robert Raines, and that intent transfers to Bobbi,” Privette concluded.