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FREED: James Mercer Strangled His Baby Son With a Cord | Tony Evers’ Killers & Rapists #13

Since 2019, Gov. Tony Evers’ Parole Commission has released hundreds of convicted criminals, freeing them early on parole mostly into Wisconsin communities, including more than 270 murderers and attempted murderers, and more than 44 child rapists.

James Mercer was one of them.

13th in the series.

Baby Jesse, just 7 weeks old, died a horrible death. The tiny baby was strangled by his father, James Mercer, who wrapped a ligature, perhaps a cord, twice around the neck and either pulled the cord from behind or suspended the infant, according to court testimony.

Mercer, then 23, testimony at the trial showed, took Jesse into the bathroom in Dane County one night to give him a bath, an old Capital Times newspaper article states. “In the words of Dr. Billy J. Bauman, Mercer then took a cord and ‘wrapped (it) twice around the baby’s neck and either pulled or suspended’” the baby. Mercer had been arrested 9 prior times on different charges, according to old newspaper articles at the time.

According to the Capital Times, two years before the slaying, Mercer was charged with child abuse for allegedly badly bruising a child he was babysitting, but the case was dropped. Two days before baby Jesse was strangled, he was in court on a forgery charge.

In a document seeking release in 2019, Mercer outlined the reasons parole was denied for him multiple times in the past,

“Your release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk to the public (1997); Your institutional conduct has NOT been satisfactory, You have NOT served sufficient time for punishment, Your program participation has NOT been satisfactory (2008); Release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk to the public, You have NOT served sufficient time for punishment, Your program participation has NOT been satisfactory (2010); Your program participation has NOT been satisfactory, Release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk to the public, You have NOT served sufficient time for punishment (2014); Your program participation has NOT been satisfactory, Release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk to the public, You have NOT served sufficient time for punishment (2015); Your program participation has NOT been satisfactory, Release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk to the public, You have NOT served sufficient time for punishment (201); Your institution conduct has been marred by multiple (meaning one conduct report) ruin-or reports of misconduct, Your program participation has NOT been satisfactory,. Release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk to the public (2017); You have NOT served sufficient time for punishment and Release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk to the public (2018).”

That all changed in 2019. Tony Evers took office and appointed John Tate, whose soft-on-crime philosophy is well-known, to run the Wisconsin Parole Commission.


Evers’ Parole Commission Freed James Mercer Early

james mercer
James Mercer

Date paroled: 10/21/2021 [You can check his parole date for yourself here. Put his name in and then choose “movement.”]

The released killer now lives: Madison, Wisconsin

Age: 63

Convicted: First-degree intentional homicide, Robbery, 1979 case

Sentence: Life sentence. Lifers don’t qualify for mandatory release, the Parole Commission confirmed.

James Mercer James Mercer James Mercer James Mercer


The Victim: Baby Jesse, 7 weeks old


What the Killer Did:

According to court records, James Mercer was convicted in Dane County in 1979 for first-degree intentional homicide & robbery. He was given a life sentence.

He strangled his 7-week-old son, Jesse.

A witness heard the baby cry and then a thump.

In a letter to the Parole Commission, he blamed blackouts. However, court records say he convinced his girlfriend to rob a bank while he was out on bail. He was age 20 at the time.

The baby was strangled by someone who wrapped a ligature, perhaps a cord, twice around the neck and either pulled from behind or suspended, according to testimony. Authorities believe it happened in the bathroom.

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Mercer claimed he had no memory of the slaying. “One minute everything was fine and the next my son wasn’t breathing in my arms. From the time that I sat down on the toilet and started feeding my son while I relieved myself, to the time that I realized my son wasn’t breathing any more I have no memory of any events or even of the passage of time,” he wrote. “I don’t know why I strangled my son because I can’t remember doing it, in spite of the fact that I was cold-sober at the time. I obvious­ly had one of my blackout type of seizures.”

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