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Milwaukee man says Tennessee killing was sister's idea

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MEMPHIS, TN (WTAQ) - A Milwaukee man who’s accused of killing his brother-in-law in Tennessee now said it was his sister’s idea all along.

49-year-old James Zell Smith testified Wednesday against Patricia Matting at her trial in Memphis on charges of murder and conspiracy.

Smith told jurors that the 53-year-old Matting wanted to get out a 30-year marriage because he was abusing her. Smith quoted her as saying “I could shoot him myself, but do you want your sister to go to jail for life?”

Patricia could get life in prison if she’s convicted. Smith is awaiting trial on charges similar to Matting’s.

He told police he only wanted to threaten Fredrick Matting, to get him to stop abusing her – but his comments led to a physical attack. And Matting ended up being stabbed, beaten, and shot on a street about 20 yards from the victim’s home in Cordova Tennessee.

Smith said he wore a disguise, but Fredrick Matting recognized him right away. Smith said he fired one shot and missed – but his second bullet hit Matting in the hip.

Smith testified that he returned to Milwaukee after the slaying – but he returned a week later for his sister’s funeral. He quoted her as saying that if he ever got caught, he should tell police that he got into a fight over money – and to leave her out of it. 

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