By: Richard L. Smith
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has confirmed that a former lawyer who was convicted of killing his wife back in 2018 was found dead inside the Essex County Jail overnight.
Essex County Spokesman Robert Florida said the following:
“We have confirmed that James Ray has died, though the cause and manner are not known. An Autopsy is pending, and our Professional Standards Bureau is conducting the investigation, said Robert Florida, spokesman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office”.
Sources inside the jail said Ray’s death was self-inflicted but no manner of death was confirmed.
On May 12th, following a six-week trial before Superior Court Judge Verna G. Leath, the jury deliberated for just three hours before convicting Ray of murder, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
Sentencing was scheduled for June 22, 2023, before Judge Leath. Ray faced the possibility of a life sentence in New Jersey State Prison.
The murder occurred nearly five years ago in the house the couple shared with their daughter on North Mountain Avenue in Montclair.
On October 22, 2018, Ray, now 60, shot Angela Bledsoe, 44, in the chest, face, and back, said Assistant Prosecutor Michele Miller, who tried the case along with Assistant Prosecutor John Petillo. Ray shot Bledsoe shortly after she returned home after dropping their daughter off at school.
Ray then prepared several documents and went to a local bank, where he withdrew checks and cash. He picked his daughter up from school and dropped her off with his brother at a New Jersey restaurant.
He asked his brother to take care of his daughter and then abruptly left the restaurant. Ray traveled through the southwestern United States and into Mexico, where he booked a flight to Cuba.
Ray was returned to the United States by U.S. law enforcement officials on Nov. 6, 2018, andhas been in custody at the Essex County Correctional Facilitysince then.
Ray was raised in Brooklyn and spent two years as a New York City police officer before earning an M.B.A. and going to law school.
He also served in the U.S. Marines.
On the day of her death, Bledsoe had a meeting scheduled with a Realtor to find a place of her own; she was planning to move out of the house she shared with Ray.
Ray and Bledsoe’s daughter remains with her family members. Having waited nearly five years for the trial to begin, a large group of Bledsoe’s family and friends filled the courtroom.