A Baltimore woman serving a jail sentence for shooting her ex-cop husband after he was accused of molesting multiple children at her daycare business is weathering the time behind bars, she says.
Shanteari Weems, 50, admittedly shot her husband, James Weems, 58, in July 2022 at the Salamander, a high-priced hotel previously known as Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in Washington, D.C.
In early February, a judge rejected a plea agreement reached between the prosecution and the defense after the woman pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault and carrying a pistol without a license. Prosecutors had only asked for two years in prison. However, D.C. Superior Court Judge Michael O’Keefe upbraided the defendant for taking the law into her own hands and doubled the request, sentencing her to four years in jail.
“I was emotional,” Shanteari Weems told D.C.-based CBS affiliate WUSA in an interview earlier this month – her first time speaking out since being sentenced for leaving her husband with two bullets in his body over those numerous child sexual abuse allegations.
In August 2022, James Weems, who worked as a bus driver for his wife’s daycare after retiring from the Baltimore Police Department in 2005, was indicted on 21 charges related to the abuse of two children at the daycare facility in Owings Mills, Maryland. Authorities initially accused him of molesting at least three children and interviewed 93 different children as part of their investigation, CBS News reported. Prosecutors later filed an additional 12 charges against him.
When those allegations made their way to Mrs. Weems, by way of a parent of one of the accusers, she said she initially intended not just to confront him but to kill him and then kill herself because her world, as she had known it for so long, had collapsed.
“I snapped,” she told WUSA’s Bruce Leshan during the interview at D.C.’s Correctional Treatment Facility.
A former correctional officer, she told the TV station that she’s got her sights set on the future.
“Despite my surroundings, I’m doing OK,” Shanteari Weems told WUSA. “I have a lot of supporters and people who uplift me and help me survive.”
The hashtag #FREESHANTEARI can often be seen online in response to her case. Her supporters behind bars and in the general public are legion.
The allegations of child abuse were made known to the inmate in the days before the shooting. Police in the area told her but did not share who their main suspect in the investigation was. During her interview, she said law enforcement was vague. Still, she asked her husband about it.
“The only person I had to find out information from was my husband,” she told the TV station. “And he kept saying he didn’t do it … I did believe him.”
But a parent was less vague. They identified Mr. Weems as the culprit.
“I saw the pain in her face, and I knew she was not lying,” Shanteari Weems reportedly said. “She finally said it was my husband.”
“I felt like the blood had just drained out of my body because … it was my husband,” she said. “He was supposed to help me protect these children. He always told me he was my protector. So when I heard this, I just felt like – I just felt like my world had ended. We were both supposed to be on this crusade of saving children, and child molestation is something that we had talked about all the time, how horrible it was. I think about that child all the time. I think about all the children all the time.”
Then she took a drink, she said, her first taste of alcohol in decades, and messaged a friend about her plans. She got the gun and set it up.
In a news release, the U.S. Department of Justice said the defendant shot the victim in the neck and the left leg, shattering the his femur. After shooting him, Weems barricaded herself inside a hotel room by placing her back against the door, preventing officers from entering. Officers forced their way in about 25 minutes and arrested her. In the hotel room, officers found Weems’ firearm in her purse and a note she wrote stating her intent to shoot the victim, officials said.
“I’m not a violent person,” Shanteari Weems told WUSA. “The situation was kind of like a fire.”
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