DEPRESSION PLEA REJECTED; WOMAN GETS LIFE SENTENCE — (The Commercial Appeal)

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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

August 13, 1999

Author: Lawrence Buser

Three years ago Mable Jean Longmire temporarily solved a problem with a .38-caliber revolver and the words,  “Didn’t I tell you to leave my husband alone?”    But she was dealt a new problem Thursday when a jury convicted her of first-degree murder and sentenced her to life in prison.

The jury of six men and six women took only an hour to reject the idea that she was severely depressed and out of control when she killed 36-year-old Lue Emma Pryor, a woman her estranged husband had been seeing.”That woman was stalking Emma Pryor,” state prosecutor Karen Cook told jurors in Criminal Court.  “She’s not a sick puppy. She’s depressed, but she’s not sick.  Anybody here not have stresses in their lives?”

Defense attorneys noted that two psychologists diagnosed Longmire with suffering from a major depressive disorder and said the shooting was  “a homicide born of rage.”

According to testimony in the four-day trial before Judge James Beasley Jr., Longmire waited for Pryor to return home the night of Dec. 22, 1996 at 909 N. Claybrook and walked up to her in the driveway as Pryor exited her car.

Pryor was shot first in the chest and when she cried for help, Longmire returned moments later to shoot her twice in the head and another time in the buttocks. She left town for two weeks and was arrested on a tip when she returned and checked into a Memphis motel.

Longmire, 42, admitted the shooting, but said she had undergone therapy and taken medication for depression and had once overdosed on sleeping pills, all because she was losing her husband of 16 years to Pryor.

“I was really hurt because my husband was everything to me – my husband, my dad, my best friend – and she was taking that away from me,” Longmire told the jury.  “I didn’t go there to kill her. She said you’d better leave or I’ll call police and then she slapped me. I know what I did was wrong, but I was enraged.  It was like a joke to her. She wasn’t going to let him go.”

Prosecutors contended that Longmire had told different versions of the incident, trying to put herself in a better light.

“There was no argument,” said prosecutor David Pritchard.  “She knew what she wanted to do. She chose the time, the place and the manner of execution and she carried it out.”

To reach reporter Lawrence Buser, call 529-2385 or E-mail buser@gomemphis.com