Two witnesses told a Chattanooga police officer on Jan. 23 they saw James Winnie shoot his wife outside her brother's home on Sixth Avenue.
But when the witnesses and victim did not show up in Hamilton County General Sessions Court on Tuesday, an attempted first-degree murder charge against Winnie was dismissed.
Winnie shook his attorney's hand and walked away from the stand with a smirk after a quick round of judicial proceedings, which included a state prosecutor's testimony that multiple attempts to contact the witnesses and victim produced no results.
Winnie, 38, was arrested at a Super 8 Motel in Ringgold, Ga., on Jan. 26, three days after police were called to 3113 Sixth Ave. on a shooting report. Winnie's wife, who had been shot in the leg, her brother and another witness told police Winnie was the shooter, according to an incident report.
She also told officers Winnie had been abusing her for years and that he had become angry with her during a text message conversation the night before because he felt she was "snitching" on another man for unrelated crimes.
According to the incident report, Winnie showed up outside his wife's brother's home the morning after the text message dispute with a gun and fired two rounds at his estranged wife.
Witnesses told police Winnie's first shot missed. But a second shot didn't.
"Due to the fact that James had fired a shot at Ms. Winnie, paused, and fired a second shot, it is highly likely that he was trying to kill his wife," an officer wrote. "He was obviously not satisfied after shooting at her and not hitting her."
Winnie has a Marion County, Tenn., address, but records show his Hamilton County criminal history is extensive.
He has been charged with various offenses over the last 20 years, including aggravated assault and drug violations. Officers who investigated the January incident noted Winnie is a convicted felon and methamphetamine was found in the hotel room where he was arrested.
Contact staff writer David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6249.
This story was updated Feb. 16 at 11:15 p.m. with more information.