The man charged with shooting his girlfriend in the wee hours of Sunday morning in Albemarle County has a history of violent crime.
John Wesley Morris has already spent time in prison for shooting two men to death in a fast-food restaurant parking lot in 1984.
A year earlier, he was fined $1,000 for shooting his cousin in the back in a downtown Charlottesville parking lot.
Now, Morris, 53, faces charges of malicious wounding, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with the Sunday shooting of the woman police describe as his girlfriend.
The woman, authorities said, suffered a damaged vertebra and is at the moment paralyzed on one side.
Jon R. Zug, assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Albemarle County, said in court Monday that Morris told the woman he was going to kill her before he pulled the trigger.
Morris had been released from prison in January 2008 and was on parole, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Appearing via video link from Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, Morris didn’t say anything during the Monday afternoon bond hearing in the county’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Judge Dwight D. Johnson ordered him held without bond.
The judge did give Morris’ attorney, Bonnie Lepold, permission to raise the subject of bond again once she’s had a chance to meet with her client.
Police aren’t willing to make public what precipitated the shooting or what sort of gun was used. Officers responded to Inglewood Drive off of Georgetown Road after a 911 call and found the woman lying on the ground, according to police.
In the 1984 incident, Morris was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in the shooting deaths of two men during a fight in the parking lot of an Albemarle County Hardee’s.
Morris claimed one of the men had been approaching him menacingly when the shooting occurred, but prosecution witnesses testified he was actually backing up. The other victim was shot as he tried to pull a car between Morris and the first victim. Morris claimed that shot was involuntary.
The jury sentenced him to 20 years per murder and six years for two firearms charges.
Morris is next set to appear in Albemarle County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on April 18 at 10:30 a.m.