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Man Will Serve Nearly 200 Years in Prison After Guilty Plea in Shooting Death of Wife and Unborn Son
Hunter James Tatum, 26, reached a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, agreeing to serve two consecutive 99-year sentences. Prosecutors had intended to seek to death penalty.
An Alabama man has been sentenced to 198 years in prison for the murder of his wife and unborn son, shooting his spouse in the head as she begged for her life and the life of their child.
Hunter James Tatum, 26, reached a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, agreeing to serve two consecutive 99-year sentences, C.J. Robinson, District Attorney for the 19th Judicial Circuit of Alabama, said in a statement.
Tatum had been indicted on capital murder charges for the killings of his wife, Summer Tatum, and the pair’s unborn son, Everett, with prosecutors intending to seek to death penalty, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
The pleas were formally entered just before closing arguments in the case were set to begin.
“This case took an emotional toll on all of us," Robinson said in his statement. "The Prattville Police Department did a great job with the investigation and I am so proud of the devotion and commitment of our team at the DA’s Office. ... My heart also goes out to the family and friends of Summer and baby [Everett]. Thank you for trusting us and believing in us as we spoke for you.”
The prosecution argued that Tatum shot his wife in a fit of rage after she discovered he was having an online affair with a woman living in England, the Advertiser reported.
Tatum’s attorneys argued the shooting was self-defense, claiming it was his wife who initially pulled the gun out, threatening to kill him, which prompted Tatum to wrestle the firearm out of her hands.
Court documents, cited by NBC affiliate WSFA, revealed that Summer was five months pregnant when she was shot twice in the back of the head in October of 2021.
She was rushed to a Montgomery hospital, where doctors performed an emergency delivery of the baby, according WSFA. Both mother and child did not make it.
“I mean, it’s gut-wrenching ... there’s no way to get around the emotional impact and just how draining it is to talk about this case, look at the evidence and, and listen to the video, the surveillance video that you can hear her screams just before she died,” Robinson told WSFA of the investigation.
Following Summer’s death, investigators obtained audio recordings from the couple’s home security camera. Summer can be heard begging for her life in the audio.
“I’ll stay, I’ll stay. I’ll do anything you want,” Summer can be heard saying on the recording, according to Law & Crime. “Don’t hurt me, please; don’t hurt our baby. Please don’t hurt our baby.”
Tatum’s response was also recorded, as he said, “No. Get away from me,” which was followed by the ring of two gunshots, three seconds apart.
A camera pointing toward the couple’s bedroom picked up footage of Tatum appearing to drag his wife across the floor after the shots were fired.
An inactive GoFundMe, set up for the victim’s funeral expenses, described Summer as always having a “huge smile on her face” and as someone who “loved life.”
“Her family and friends will definitely miss her and what could have been," the page continued. "She was always destined for great things."