William White

William J. White

CONCHO — Details have emerged about the stabbing death of Craig James Huffman 51, at a residence on Apache County Road 5051 in the late night hours of Jan. 2. William Jason White, 44 of Concho has been charged with first degree murder, a Class 1 Felony, burglary, a Class 2 Felony, possessing a weapon when prohibited, a Class 4 Felony, and tampering with evidence, a Class 6 Felony. He awaits trial in the Apache County Jail on a $300,000 bond. The case came on for preliminary hearing last Tuesday which provided more details about the case. White is represented by LeGate, Penrod, and Associates, PLLC out of Show Low. White is presumed by law to be innocent.

The case started when an Apache County Sheriff’s Deputy was dispatched to a residence where callers had said that a man later identified as Craig Huffman, a local contractor had been stabbed in the chest. The deputy arrived around 10:25 p.m. and observed a “deceased white male...laying on his back in the kitchen floor,” according to court records. The deputy recognized Huffman from “previous calls for service.” He also noticed a large pool of blood next to the body and “footwear sole impressions in the blood on the kitchen floor.” Huffman was pronounced dead about 30 minutes after the call came in.

According to deputies, at least four persons were living at the residence on County Road (CR) 5051 at the time: a man named Bill Rogers and his wife, Sherri Gram, who is reported to be the deceased’s ex-wife, and a mother and daughter. Huffman was there to pay some of the occupants who had performed work for his company, Huffy Construction.

Somewhere along the line, the group had a visitor, a woman named Misty Elam, who deputies said lives with the defendant White and her children a few blocks away near the intersection of CR 5053 and CR 5054. Elam allegedly came over to visit and drink “shots,” witnesses said according to court documents. Deputies describe Elam as “Not being cooperative and not being direct in what she had witnessed,” stated deputies. She claims that she was in the “backroom taking shots,” when she heard noises. She later told White’s mother that because Elam suffers from PTSD, and she didn’t remember what happened.

One witness told deputies that she opened the door to White who demanded to know, “Where is he?” pushed himself into the residence, ran towards Huffman and they struggled. The man of the house, Bill Rogers, said he saw White, wearing a black leather jacket, holding a knife to Huffman’s neck while the men were on the floor and that White left the residence on foot, and took the knife with him. Rogers “began to help (Huffman) who was bleeding from the neck,” stated the deputy in their report.

At least four people identified White as being in the residence and because White was apparently known to them, deputies had no trouble finding the “goose neck fifth wheel” in which White was reportedly staying with Elam and the children near CR 5053 and 5054. It was reported that White also lived with his mother on Wood Lane in Concho. At about 1 a.m. deputies went to the White’s lot and interviewed him. They noticed that he had blood on his hands, observed and impounded a back leather jacket, a vest, blue jeans and shoes which had a “reddish brown substance consistent with blood,” on all the items. They also recovered a “Milwaukee camo knife,” the blade of which is reportedly about three inches. In fact, deputies showed the coroner a picture of the knife and he opined that knife was consistent with the wounds on Huffman.

White told deputies that Huffman was Elam’s ex-boyfriend, and that he did not talk to Huffman. White denied being at the residence and said he had been home with the children since he walked around the neighborhood near sundown, that he knows the people who live at the residence where the event occurred but doesn’t hang out with them because they are not his kind of people, according to the deputies. White did not have an answer to the deputies’ question about why four adults would each say that he was present at their residence a few hours earlier.

In attendance at the preliminary hearing, by Zoom, a family member of Huffman appeared and seemed to be squirming in his seat out of frustration as he listened to the testimony. That family member told the Independent that Huffman had $5,000 in cash in his wallet in order to pay the workers, and that by the time the deputies made their reports, the money was gone. The family member said that investigators were dismissive of him about that and were downright rude to him.

Another bone of contention with the family member is the suggestion that the deceased Huffman had once gotten into a fight with White. This is important if the prosecution or defense develop a theory of the case that Huffman and White had strong feelings for the same woman and the defense might argue that if indeed White stabbed Huffman, it may have been justified as self defense, because the men had allegedly tangled before. But the family member claims that it was the family member, not the deceased Huffman, who had a previous altercation with White, but the investigators are not interested in listening to the family member about that, either, he said.

In any event, on Feb. 18, prosecutors filed a new set of charges against William Jason White. They allege that in July 2020, he broke the finger of Misti Elam, wrecked the tires on her trailer, and assaulted a minor under 15 years of age by throwing a beer bottle at her which hit the child in the face and caused an eye injury and a bloody nose. The alleged minor victim’s initials match the name of one of three children reportedly staying with White and Elam in the fifth wheel on CR 5053 and 5054, where investigators found the bloody clothing. Because they are minors, they will not be named.

It is not unusual for some victims to decline to cooperate with the authorities and that may explain why the July 2020 charges are just now being filed. There may have been a change of heart by the alleged victims now that White is being held in jail and faces a murder charge, that there’s no reason not to cooperate about the July 2020 alleged incident. The complaint regarding the July 2020 incident alleges six prior felony crimes White has been convicted of in the last ten years.

At the end of the preliminary hearing, the court threw out one of the new charges about the broken finger, because there was no medical records to substantiate it; only what the alleged victim told the deputies, and she wasn’t at the hearing to testify.

White is presumed by law to be innocent of the July 2020 allegations as well. His next court date was not listed yet as of press time.

Reach the reporter at rlynch@wmicentral.com

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