Rocky Mountain News reporters James B. Meadow and Sue Lindsay have the first in a two part series, Death at the River of Lost Souls, on the shooting death of Texas-bred Trinidad lawyer James Tatum. His wife Ann, charged with killing him, is free on bond. Shorter version, as we say in legal parlance: the Dude deserved to die.

That Tatum would meet with a violent end didn’t surprise many people. That he would meet with a violent end allegedly at the hands of his spouse wasn’t shocking, either. After all, Tatum’s first wife put a bullet in him. ….There were, by many accounts, his violent attacks on Liz. Attacks on his daughters – like the time he hit Sheryl, 16, and broke her rib, finger and ear drum. It all came to a head April 6, 1981. Liz and Jim were divorcing. She was tired of the beatings, tired of his philandering. He was livid at the affair she was having. Jim had been drinking and, as Liz would testify, he called her a “whore and a slut.” She slapped him. He kicked her out of the bed, knocking her to the floor. She ran to the den where a gun was kept – guns were all over the house; “more guns than a gun store,” said one friend. She loaded it. Returned to the bedroom. Cocked it. “Go ahead and shoot me,” he shouted, cursing at her from bed. She did. Right in the chest, near the heart, with a .22 Magnum.

This is great stuff for the defense of Ann Tatum. In a small community like Trinidad, where everyone will read these articles, she’s the victim, he’s the bad guy. I won’t be surprised if the defense decides not to request a change of venue. They can’t get more favorable publicity for their client than this.