Murder of Javon Donahue by Jema Donahue spotlighted on Kill or Be Killed

Mugshot of Jema Donahue
Jema Donahue claimed she shot her husband in self-defense. Pic credit: MO Dept. of Corrections

Kill or Be Killed is examining the murder of Javon Donahue, who was shot dead by his wife, Jema Donahue, in the rural town of Knob Noster, Missouri.

On April 4, 2017, Jema shot 31-year-old Javon four times – in the back, the back of his head, in the mouth, and under the chin – in her bedroom at her parent’s house.

Jema told the police that it was self-defense; Javon had allegedly broken into the house while high on methamphetamines.

The couple were married for about ten years, and Jema claimed she had been regularly abused by her husband.

After the shooting, Jema enlisted the help of her mother, Margaret Heffernan, and a friend, Ricky Wayne Armstrong, to bury the body in a nearby field. The trio also hid other evidence.

The remains were recovered by the police about three weeks later, and Jema was arrested and placed in Johnson County Jail.

Less than a month before the killing, Jema had filed a protection order against Javon. Heffernan said she, too, had filed an order when Javon allegedly punched and threw Jema to the ground and threatened to kill her whole family, including Heffernan.

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Cops didn’t believe Jema Donahue shot Javon Donahue in self-defense

The police and the prosecution struggled to accept Jema’s self-defense plea because she and her accomplices attempted to hide their crime and lied to law enforcement. The cops also noted Jema’s lack of remorse.

Booking mugshot of Jema Donahue
Jema Donahue was arrested three weeks after the shooting. Pic credit: Johnson County Sheriff’s Office

In November 2021, Jema Donahue was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, unlawful use of a weapon, felony murder, tampering with evidence, and abandonment of a corpse.

On the verdict, Jema’s defense lawyer, John Picerno, stated, “Obviously, we’re very grateful the jury did not convict her of murder in the second degree. We were hopeful she would be found not guilty of manslaughter and not guilty of felony murder, but we’re definitely pleased she was not convicted of murder in the second degree.”

Jema Donahue remains in prison for killing Javon Donahue

Jema was sentenced to ten years and is currently incarcerated at the Chillicothe Correctional Center in Missouri.

In an impact statement, Javon’s mother, Warnetta Donahue, called her son’s death a “senseless act” and said, “We’d like [Jema] to be punished for destroying his life … and his family.”

Heffernan and Armstrong both pleaded guilty for their roles in helping Jema dispose of the remains. They received five years of probation each.

Kill or be Killed airs Saturdays at 9/8c on Oxygen.

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