‘Suspected she was having affairs:’ Arraignment set for man accused of fatally stabbing live-in girlfriend

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Jimmy Bates

MILWAUKEE — A man accused of stabbing and killing his live-in girlfriend is set to stand trial.

Jimmy Bates, 59, was in court Monday, Sept. 10 for his preliminary hearing. He faces one count of first degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon after prosecutors say he killed Debra Luckett in May.

During the hearing, a Milwaukee Police Department detective testified, and a defense motion to dismiss was denied by the court. Probable cause was found for further proceedings, and Bates was bound over for trial. An arraignment was set for Oct. 3.

Luckett, 52, who police have also referred to as Debra Hammond, was fatally stabbed inside her home near 70th and Lima on Milwaukee’s northwest side on May 15. Milwaukee police said the incident may have stemmed from a fight.

“I just want to see his look, ask him why,” said the victim’s sister, Lisa Luckett Jones. She said she’s relieved Bates has finally been caught.

Jimmy Bates

“It was like a burden lifted off my shoulder,” Luckett Jones said.

According to the criminal complaint against Bates, a cousin reported Debra Luckett missing on May 16. That cousin indicated “no one in the family had been able to contact (Luckett) by phone, and there was no answer at the door.” An hour later, that same cousin called 911 at Luckett’s home — and discovered her body. She was dead on a bedroom floor.

Jimmy Bates

Homicide investigation near 70th and Lima

Debra Luckett

When police arrived on the scene, they found Luckett had suffered multiple stab wounds — and no one else was in the house. Police knew Bates lived in the residence with Luckett — but he was nowhere to be found.

Investigators stopped by Bates’ workplace on that same day. Management there indicated he “worked last on Monday, May 14 and had taken a ‘last-minute’ vacation. However, Bates never returned to work after this vacation, and never contacted his employer.” The complaint indicates Bates had worked there for years.

On Aug. 26, a police officer observed a man loitering outside of a business near 39th and Villard in Milwaukee. The officer made contact with the man, who he later identified as Bates — and a further check revealed Bates was a suspect in the homicide of Luckett. He was arrested.

Homicide investigation near 70th and Lima

When questioned by investigators, Bates told police his relationship with Luckett had “deteriorated.” He apparently suspected Luckett was having affairs with other men. He stated “he would set the burglar alarm, pretend to go to work, take a vacation day, and sneak back inside the residence so he could spy on (Luckett).” Bates said he observed Luckett with another man and stated “he wanted to kill them both, but was able to restrain himself.”

Bates told police he and Luckett got into “heated arguments” and that he gave Luckett 60 days to move out. He said their last big fight was either Monday or Tuesday after Mother’s Day. He never admits to fatally stabbing Luckett.

Lisa Luckett Jones

“You don’t kill someone just because you think someone is cheating on you,” said Luckett Jones.

Homicide investigation near 70th and Lima

Bates also told police when he returned to his residence on May 16, he say police were there. He said he left because he “had three guns in his car.” After that, he “sold his truck, destroyed his phone, gave his guns to a friend” and “decided to live underneath the 27th Street viaduct near the Domes.”

Jimmy Bates

Bates made his initial appearance in court on Aug. 31. Cash bond was set at $250,000.

If convicted on the homicide charge, Bates faces life in prison.

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