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'Good Guy With a Gun,' or Too Good to Be True?

This Arizona state Senate candidate says he killed his mother in self-defense more than 50 years ago. But does his story really add up?

A Republican running for state Senate in Arizona says he killed his mother in self-defense more than 50 years ago. Now he's using his experience to campaign against gun control, but the story is muddier than it might initially seem.

Bobby Wilson was 18 in 1963, when he claims his "deranged" mother, Lavonne, shot at him, prompting him to shoot back and kill her. The candidate, who's written a book about his experience titled Bobby's Trials, suggested at a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America forum in Tucson last week that if he hadn't acted immediately, his mother would have killed him. "[She] was hell-bent on killing me in my sleep one night. At three o'clock in the morning, I woke up to find a rifle in my face—a semiautomatic rifle at that—and the bullets started to fly, and I started diving for cover," he said.

Speaking to The Arizona Republic, Wilson provided more details about what happened that night. He says after his mother started shooting, she saw a shadow move and swung her gun around, hitting his younger sister with the rifle butt in the process. His sister, Judy, died, and Wilson says an autopsy proved the impact of the rifle butt was what killed her.

Wilson's mother kept on shooting, and though she didn't hit her son, she did smash open several glass jars full of gas, he says. At that point, Wilson claims he fired back with his own rifle and killed his mother with a shot to the face. But when he tried to turn on the light, a spark caused the gasoline to ignite and the house exploded.

Wilson was charged with murdering both his mother and sister, and he faced three trials over the course of the next 10 years. He says his case was finally dismissed in 1973 and he received an apology from the district attorney.

As he told the crowd at the Moms Demand Action forum, Wilson thinks his experience shows why a "good guy with a gun" can stop the bad guys. "You can pass all the laws you want to in this world, and when you've got somebody out there that wants to harm somebody, they're going to do it if you don't stop them," he said.

But Wilson's story is more complicated than he's letting on. He's trying to focus on the self-defense angle to show off his pro-gun credentials, but he isn't exactly the best example for the argument.

Newspaper and court accounts reviewed by the Republic cast doubt on parts of Wilson's account. In the days following the incident, for instance, the Choctaw County Weekly published several articles that contradict the candidate's current claims. As the Republic summarizes it:

According to the newspaper, the charred bodies of Lavonne and Judy Wilson were found lying together in bed "in a 'perfectly relaxed' position, indicating they died in their sleep from suffocation."

Later, according to the Weekly, Wilson confessed to both murders. Court records show that Wilson later claimed to be suffering from amnesia and thus couldn't remember what had happened. As a result, the jury agreed to suspend the case, and there were no additional developments until 1973, when Wilson's attorney successfully argued that the case should be dismissed because his client had been "deprived of his right to speedy trial," according to the Republic.

Wilson would go on to become a lawyer himself, and he says he eventually remembered how events transpired the night his mother and sister died. But it's more than a little suspicious that after reportedly confessing to the murders and then forgetting the details for years, he finally recalled a version of the story in which he's the hero.

Wilson is correct that good guys with guns can stop bad guys, but in this case it's not clear that he really was the good guy.

Photo Credit: Bobby Wilson for State Senate-District 2/Facebook

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  • Tony||

    Obviously we have to give sleeping children guns.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    You know what works even better? Banning all toy guns or anything gun-shaped, like the Montessori school where my friend sent her son. He showed me his giant super-soaker and whispered that he is not supposed to have one. They were also not allowed to make any animal sculptures or drawings with eyes on them. I still haven't figured that one out.

  • Just Say'n||

    "Montessori school where my friend sent her son."

    Too European. Do they give the children baguettes as a snack?

  • Citizen X||

    Baguettes are way too emblematic of phallocentrism.

  • Just Say'n||

    Look who writes for Teen Vogue

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Each baguette must be served with a bagel.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

  • Tony||

    He showed me his giant super-soaker and whispered that he is not supposed to have one.

    It's always a shame when they have giant ones and still want to go trans.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Well done, Past Me.

    *applauds*

  • Citizen X||

    This is pretty funny. What'd you do with the real Tony?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    To be fair, Tony can sling some nice ones once in a while.

  • Juice||

    They were also not allowed to make any animal sculptures or drawings with eyes on them.

    My son is a big fan of that too.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Wilson's mother kept on shooting, and though she didn't hit her son, she did smash open several glass jars full of gas, he says. At that point, Wilson claims he fired back with his own rifle and killed his mother with a shot to the face. But when he tried to turn on the light, a spark caused the gasoline to ignite and the house exploded.

    Haha, what the fuck?

  • Tony||

    Just a few tweaks to the plot and that is one zany comedy of errors.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's almost Blood Simple as it is.

  • Citizen X||

    That was the worst episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Worse than the recent ones, in which Chuck Norris had an actual walker?

  • ||

    It's actually not too far off from the opening scene of Demolition Man. I think the real question is if we freeze Bobby Wilson would he be unfrozen in the future as a old-shool ass-kicking cop or if they hadn't frozen John Spartan would he have run for the Senate in AZ?

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

  • BestUsedCarSales||

  • Citizen X||

    Listening to mathrock always makes me feel like i'm getting better at video games somehow.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    A good way to cause a riot at an Asian nursing home is to promise them a whole afternoon of mathrock, and then playing Dilllinger Escape Plan instead.

  • Citizen X||

    Only an Asian nursing home, racist?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I must admit it took me a bit to get the Mathrock/Matlock pun there.

  • Citizen X||

    That's because you're not a racist, BUCS.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Let's not get ahead of ourselves. I am from a non-coastal city.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Do I need to explain the joke, which was brought to life by your totally unorthodox and idiosyncratic way of writing "math rock" as one word?

  • Citizen X||

    I used to be part hipster, and i do not apologize to you or any other.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Used to? You finally shaved your beard?

  • Citizen X||

    No, but i stopped waxing the mustache part.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    And this is why storing your gasoline jars in the kids' bedroom fell out of vogue.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, dude. I'm not sure you are helping the cause all that much.

  • Stoic||

    No kidding. If the mom hadn't had access to a gun, he wouldn't have needed one to defend himself. Plus his sister still died, so his gun didn't manage to save her. I'm pretty sure the first rule for a politically-helpful good-guy-with-gun story is that the hero must save at least one life besides his own.

  • Zeb||

    There is all that. But mostly I was thinking of how contrived and batshit insane it all sounds.

  • ||

    I'm pretty sure the first rule for a politically-helpful good-guy-with-gun story is that the hero must save at least one life besides his own.

    At the very least, your good guy story *shouldn't* end with 'And, unfortunately, all the evidence along with any potential witnesses went up in flames.'

  • LarryA||

    Particularly along with "Mom fired a whole bunch of shots and I shot back, but it was a spark from the light switch that set off the gasoline vapors."

  • Just Say'n||

    Justice isn't served unless the Arizona Republic has had their say. Defendant's rights be damned, when we can rely on snippets from a newspaper whose personals section is filled with "casual meth head encounters"

  • Just Say'n||

    "Seeking single white female with meth."

  • Just Say'n||

    I've never been to Arizona, but I'm pretty sure I'm spot on here

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Not more so than any state with rural areas. I don't know if Phoenix is particularly meth ridden.

  • Just Say'n||

    I'm just kidding, BUCS.

    *gives BUCS a noogie*

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Math rock > meth rock

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Rockabilly is pretty great too though.

  • Hugh Akston||

    According to the newspaper, the charred bodies of Lavonne and Judy Wilson were found lying together in bed "in a 'perfectly relaxed' position, indicating they died in their sleep from suffocation."

    I still hope he said something awesome before he flipped the lightswitch that blew up the house.

  • Just Say'n||

    It would be a shame if it was a clapper. That would make the line far less "bad ass"

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Ok, I laffed.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Nonsense.

    "Clap on... flame on."

  • Happy Chandler||

    I didn't think you could die from the clap.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    That's not the first time you've had to say that, is it.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Could he be any more repetitive?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Clapper disputes this,

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "And dee Lord said, 'Let dere be death.'"

  • Cynical Asshole||

    "Remember when I said I'd burn you last? I lied!"

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I still hope he said something awesome before he flipped the lightswitch that blew up the house.

    *dons sunglasses*

    "Let's light this bitch up."

    And then walked away while the house blew up without looking back.

  • ||

    I still hope he said something awesome before he flipped the lightswitch that blew up the house.

    Is it cold in here? Or is it just me?

  • Intelligent Mr Toad||

    He killed his mother? The Emperor Nero did the same.

  • Yellow Tony||

    He might have, bud. He might have. Also (s)he's pretty hot.

  • Intelligent Mr Toad||

    Did he eat her liver, with some Fava beans and a nice Chiya-anti?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    "...At three o'clock in the morning, I woke up to find a rifle in my face—a semiautomatic rifle at that—and the bullets started to fly, and I started diving for cover," he said.

    ...

    Wilson's mother kept on shooting, and though she didn't hit her son, she did smash open several glass jars full of gas, he says. At that point, Wilson claims he fired back with his own rifle and killed his mother with a shot to the face. But when he tried to turn on the light, a spark caused the gasoline to ignite and the house exploded.

    Yeah, I'm smelling an awful lot of bullshit coming off of this story. If he woke up with a rifle "in his face," how the hell did she miss at pretty much point blank range? That's CA cop level ineptitude.

    And I'm assuming this happened inside his room. Why were there glass jars full of gasoline sitting around? That seems like an odd thing to keep inside your room. And a spark from the light switch just happened to ignite it? I suppose everything could have happened exactly as he described, but it sounds like bullshit to me.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    Based only on the story as presented, this family threw the best parties in town.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Yeah, legally I don't know what evidence was there. But that story is something out of a kids online storytelling about how cool they are.

  • Alcibiades||

    So after the spark ignited the explosion it was "and with one bound I was home free..."

  • Yellow Tony||

    Why were there glass jars full of gasoline sitting around?
    Do you not place jars of gas in your bedrooms? It's a known method that keeps the Jews away and thus your kids safe.
    And a spark from the light switch just happened to ignite it?
    Duh. This Wilson fella must have been extra paranoid of the Jews kidnapping him. So he accidentally flipped the self-destruct switch that he installed to ignite the gas as the last line of defense to ensure those big-nosed monstrosities don't succeed in obtaining his and his family's bodies.
    but it sounds like bullshit to me.
    That's because you probably think the holocaust actually happened.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Hold on. Alt-Universe Me, Past Me, and me are in the same thread. This is like the first time in a few months that that's happened.

  • Yellow Tony||

    So that explains the feeling of having two hands grasp my peenus-weenus when I made my first post ITT.
    I miss you, other me's!

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    We miss you too, but our aim is getting better.

    We'd move into better range, but we want to be as far away from you as possible.

  • macsnafu||

    Right. You wouldn't want to be too close when the bullet sparks and ignites the fire!

  • ||

    Why were there glass jars full of gasoline sitting around?

    What are you, one of those gasoline controlling motherfuckers? Next you'll be telling us that nobody needs more than 1 or 2 jars of gasoline in their bedroom.

    But seriously, with the muzzle to your face (presumably lying in bed unarmed) it shouldn't make any difference whether the gun is bolt, break, pump, lever, single, double, semi, or full auto. I'd like to pretend that it would be interesting to figure out how you could see the muzzle in front of your face, have a shootout in a room full of gasoline, and *then* need to turn the light on.

    Agreed on the bullshit, to the point that between the confession, the bullshit lie, and the state of affairs at home, he was certainly a danger to himself and others.

  • markm23||

    More than that, his story has him and his mother conducting a gunfight _with rifles_ in his bedroom. That is, at ranges not much longer than the rifles. Either one of them could have easily got too close for a rifle to bear and turned it into hand to hand combat with the rifles at most used as clubs - and that's certainly how I would have reacted to waking up to a rifle pointed at me from point-blank range, rather than trying to dodge bullets while getting my own gun out - even in the dark.

    "Jars of gasoline" is just plain weird. Some hobbyists might have a small jar of gasoline around for cleaning (preferably white gas, not motor fuel with the toxic additives), but "jars"!?! Even one small jar is quite a fire hazard in a wooden house or a bedroom with the usual furnishings.

  • LarryA||

    I know that cars don't blow up as soon as you shoot them, like in the movies.

    However, I'm pretty sure if you put a couple of rifle bullets through glass jars of gasoline at across-the-bed range, then fire several more shots, you won't have to set vapors off with the light switch.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Later, according to the Weekly, Wilson confessed to both murders. Court records show that Wilson later claimed to be suffering from amnesia and thus couldn't remember what had happened. As a result, the jury agreed to suspend the case...

    Amnesia? And they actually believed that? I guess people were a lot more gullible back then.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    If it happened on Dallas*, it was totally believable.

    *I honestly have no idea when the TV series Dallas was actually on the air. Nor do I care to spend 1 minute looking it up.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    1980's I think. My understanding is amnesia almost never happens outside of bad soap operas, which is what his story sounds like.

  • Happy Chandler||

    80's ish. I was a kid.
    When my wife was teaching English in the Czech Republic in 2002, her kids asked her where "The Dallas" was. Because it was being shown there, as a new show.

  • Alcibiades||

    Have an older friend in the UK.

    Told me when the Dallas episode aired where the identity of who'd shot JR was revealed streets throughout the UK were deserted and the killers identity was given on the national news later that evening.

  • ||

    Told me when the Dallas episode aired where the identity of who'd shot JR was revealed streets throughout the UK were deserted and the killers identity was given on the national news later that evening.

    The same thing happened in the United States the first time the episode aired here.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    NO SPOILERS

    I still don't know who killed JR.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Maggie Simpson, duh.

  • Happy Chandler||

    Boo-urns!

  • DatCrazyMongoose||

    Here's a spoiler...he wasn't killed, merely shot. He survived.

  • LarryA||

    And they actually believed that?

    Sounds more like, "Hell no we don't believe him. But the prosecutor can't come up with enough evidence to convict."

    "Not guilty" does not equal "Innocent"

  • Alcibiades||

    This sounds like it shoud've happened in Florida.

    Arizona is stealing their thunder...

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Thunder is yet another thing in which Arizona is severely depauperate. Like twice-circumsized men.

  • Alcibiades||

    Thunder is yet another thing in which Arizona is severely depauperate. Like twice-circumsized men.

    Thanks for increasing my word power by a single unit today.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    It means removing the foreskin.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Not every post needs a response, dude.

  • Alcibiades||

    Ok, I admit it, CMB increased my word power by two units today.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Don't shatter my worldview. I don't have a lot going for me.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Seriously though, compare AZ with FL on a map of thunderstorms. I think I may have found the evolutionary cause of Florida Man.

  • Alcibiades||

    Isn't Florida the lightning capital of the world?

    Have a friend that grew up there.

    Told me one day at school there was a thunder storm outside and just as his teacher grabbed hold of the metal door handle there was a flash of lightning and then a smell of burning flesh in the air plus one dead teacher on the floor.

    Later, the caretaker was struck by lightning and killed at the school.

    Interesting state Florida.

  • Leo Kovalensky II||

    This AZ guy should have went with this story.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Didn't we just read an article about false confessions?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Did we? I know I read an article about how those who become titillated by girls and guys pooping have above average intelligence. Good stuff.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Have a link?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Gurochan.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    ...I'm both glad and displeased that I googled that. Glad, because it meant that I didn't throw myself headlong into it and run away screaming, and displeased because now that's on the NSA databases.

  • Rich||

    he says he eventually remembered how events transpired the night his mother and sister died.

    "Yeah, ........ *that's* the ticket!"

  • Yellow Tony||

    The greatest thing about Arizona is the ice tea brand that uses the state's name, and the company that produces those drinks are in fucking New York!
    Disgusting.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    We gave you the Chimichanga you damned ingrate.

  • Just Say'n||

    True. And elected one as your senator

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    AND TASERS

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Don't bad mouth Barry Goldwater.

  • Yellow Tony||

    Chimichangas aren't even as good as a normal burrito.
    Carry on, clinger.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Alternate-universe me, how could you be so delusional?

    HOW could you BE so DELUSIONAL?

  • Yellow Tony||

    Delusional?
    (smirks)
    You're the one who's delusional, this dimension's future me. Agreeing with a guy who is most likely the horse-fucking head of the Libertarian party is pathetic and ruinous.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Disagreeing that chimichangas are one of the BEST foods that has ever been released onto the world, denigrating them as below the burrito, is pathetic and ruinous.

  • Yellow Tony||

    (snickers) Your blind devotion to your stalking (PROOF HERE and HERE!!!!) of my person is indicative of your SHIT taste!
    YOU - RETARD = ZERO

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I feel like we're starting to see some tears in spacetime or something.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    At this point, if I wasn't Nick Sarwark it would make no sense.

  • GiveMeLibertyOrHandouts||

    Funny, I'm reading this comment from their HQ right now in the desert of Long Island.

  • Eddy||

    Now there's a guy who *didn't* miss his mother.

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Wilson doesn't need to persuade intelligent, educated, informed people. His target audience consists of Republicans.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    when Wilson's attorney successfully argued that the case should be dismissed because his client had been "deprived of his right to speedy trial," according to the Republic.

    Sounds like theY wrung out every drop from the rights-of-the-accused sponge.

  • macsnafu||

    Wilson's story is so darned weird that it might just be true! But I doubt it. Another fellow nut from Oklahoma.

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