Weather Updates

Man convicted of killing his father, wife & ex-girlfriend in murder spree

James Amis/ phofrom Cook County Sheriff's office

James Amison / photo from Cook County Sheriff's office

storyidforme: 32877908
tmspicid: 12004095
fileheaderid: 5486109

Updated: July 1, 2012 4:42PM

A South Side man accused of murdering his wife, father and ex-girlfriend during a 2009 weekend crime spree was convicted late Thursday of all three killings.

James Amison, 40, was convicted by a jury Thursday night of three counts of first-degree murder and one count each of home invasion, armed robbery and being an armed habitual criminal, Cook County state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

The crime spree started when Amison strangled his wife, 38-year-old Tashika Smith, about 10 p.m. Dec. 11, 2009, in the 300 block of West 35th Street in south suburban Steger, authorities said.

Amison then drove to the 1600 block of South 19th Avenue in Maywood and fatally shot his father, 63-year-old James Johnson, in the neck. He then went to the 5400 block of South Marshfield Avenue in Chicago, where he kicked down the door and murdered his ex-girlfriend, 40-year-old Stephanie Reed.

Prosecutors said Amison thought his wife was having an affair with his father, which sparked the killing spree. Police said the shooting initially left Amison’s father paralyzed from the neck down, but he died Jan. 3, 2011.

Ballistics analysis showed a bullet recovered from Reed’s body matched a handgun recovered from Amison, prosecutors said. He later admitted killing Reed, who dated him on and off for three or four years, prosecutors said.

He was arrested about 2:15 a.m. on Dec. 12, 2009, at The Factory, a strip club in the 12000 block of South Doty Avenue, when he pointed a gun at several people — including strippers dancing on the stage — before being shot by another patron, police said.

Amison, of the 5000 block of South Bishop Street, told arresting officers he went to the strip club to rob someone to “continue his crime spree,” police said. He also told police if officers had not stopped him, he “would have killed eight more people.”

While Amison was under police guard at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, officers found a knife from his food tray hidden in his hospital bed, police said.

Amison has prior convictions for aggravated kidnapping, aggravated vehicular hijacking, armed robbery and possession of a controlled substance.

He will be back in court July 30. Amison was originally charged with first-degree murder in Will County for Smith’s death, but the case was transferred to Cook County, Simonton said.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.