Man stabbed girlfriend, let her bleed to death, authorities say

Newaygo County

WHITE CLOUD, Mich. (WOOD) — A man is accused of stabbing his girlfriend and letting her bleed for hours before she died in their home near Hardy Dam Pond last week court records show.

It’s not the first time James Sprowls, 65, has been accused in a death.

In 1999, he killed three young boys on their bikes in a hit-and-run crash in Muskegon County.

“I veered off the road and I hit something,” Sprowls said during an emotional sentencing hearing in 2000 for the hit-and-run deaths of Greg Doorenbos, 16; Michael Trowbridge, 15; and Kevin Allen Arvey, 13. “When I found out there were children, when I found out there were three boys involved. Oh God, I’m sorry… Oh God, I’m sorry.”

For his conviction on three counts of driving with a suspended license causing death, Sprowls served 9.5 years in prison, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections.

This time, Sprowls could face up to life.

He was arraigned Monday in Newaygo County District Court in the stabbing death of 35-year-old Shannon Brown last week at their home in Big Prairie Township. Prosecutors identified her as his girlfriend.

He’s charged with open murder and being a repeat offender. He was ordered held without bond in the Newaygo County Jail.

“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant stabbed his girlfriend to death and that the death was reported quite a bit of time after that stabbing,” Newaygo County Prosecutor Worth Stay said during the arraignment.

Court records show Sprowls told deputies he was cutting a pie with a paring knife in the kitchen when Brown came up from behind and smacked him in the back of the head. He spun with the knife in his hand and stabbed her in the right side, he told deputies.

He told deputies that he had seen people shanked in prison before but that they had survived.

Sprowls told deputies it happened about 10 a.m. He didn’t call 911 until just before 9 p.m. Wednesday. However, court records indicate the stabbing could have happened the day before.

During that span, Sprowls told deputies, he checked on Brown in the bathroom, tried stopping the bleeding and used a solo cup filled with water to rinse the blood.

He said he called 911 after finding her dead in the bathroom.

Deputies said Sprowls had a blood alcohol content level of 0.05, below the level considered drunk.

“We believe the defendant has an unchecked alcohol problem,” the prosecutor said in court.

Linda Klamer, who lives across the street from the couple, said Brown and the suspect had lived together for several years in the home. She said she drove them to church every Sunday.

“He played the drums in church,” she said. “We got along well. They got along well.”

She said Sprowls helped the victim at her craft shows.

“I never would have dreamt that this would happen, never,” she said. “We loved Jimmy and we loved Shannon. I can’t believe it. It’s just sad, it’s just really sad. Poor Jimmy; just got to pray for him. Our church is going to pray for him.”

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