Mellen pleads guilty to manslaughter

James Mellen Sr.

NAVAJO COUNTY — James Mellen Sr., 85, of Heber, was indicted for allegedly shooting and killing his son, 58 year-old James Mellen, Jr. on June 28 in the senior Mellen’s home on Woods Drive in Overgaard. Law enforcement claims that the victim was in bed when he was killed. The defendant claims self-defense, or as it is called by Arizona law, justification. Mellen Sr. is an elderly, small man. On Sept. 16, he appeared in court in jail-issued clothing, he had a white beard and sat shackled in the jury box during a preliminary court proceeding.

Another son, Raymond Mellen, told the Independent in July that his late brother was an abusive drunk who mistreated his dad, pushed him, assaulted him, deliberately dropped and broke things, and called him names not suitable for print. The deceased, Raymond says, arrived in town to sponge off the old man when he heard that the senior Mellen had bought a used motor home for Raymond to live in. He said that on the day of the shooting, he arrived at the Woods Drive home before his brother passed away, that Mellen junior opened his eyes when Raymond nudged his knee with a flashlight. He claims that the victim was indeed in bed, but that next to the bed was a heavy pan and a belt that Raymond believes was used by the deceased to terrorize their father, whom he abused regularly, he said.

The case was delayed because Mellen hired a private lawyer, Ronald Wood of Show Low, to substitute in, replacing the public defender. Court filings show that Wood is working this case, and hard. He filed a Request For Additional Disclosure on Sept. 25 not only seeking the things that the public defender asked for a month prior, but copies of videos, pictures, body cam footage, audio recordings crime scene logs, trace documents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and autopsy reports, among other items.

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