‘I Am a Killer’ returns with a new season, documenting the lives of convicted murderers and trying to trace the true motivations behind their crimes. The docuseries is now streaming on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Family Matters (Episode 1):
In 2011, Anthony Standifar was found guilty of second-degree robbery and first-degree murder of 69-year-old Beverly Crowl.
Anthony had a difficult childhood with a mother addicted to drugs and a father who refused to claim him as his son.
At the age of 11, he was sent to state care. He was molested when he was in foster care. A few years later, he got involved in gang activities. It was after the death of his brother that he stopped caring about committing crimes altogether.
At the age of 25, he was living with his girlfriend, and they were both unemployed. One night, in desperate need of money, he went to rob a drug dealer’s house with an acquaintance.
After having some difficulty finding the right house, they entered a house that belonged to an old woman. As she had seen their faces and Anthony had just gotten off parole, he killed her so that he could leave the crime scene without any witnesses.
The police arrested him after another gang member named him. It was hard to interrogate him, but they got him to confess his crime by promising him that he would get to see his girlfriend if he gave them more information regarding the murder.
His girlfriend had already given a complete confession to the police, implicating him in the murder. Anthony was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
A Mother’s Love (Episode 2):
In 2017, Jema Donahue shot and killed her husband, Javon. However, she pleaded not guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
Jema was sexually assaulted as a child by an older man, which made her mother overprotective to the point where their relationship suffered.
She got pregnant when she was still in school. Jema had two kids and was in college when she met Javon, who had recently been released from prison. He took care of her children so that she could focus on her degree.
When she realized he was still dealing drugs and that he was getting abusive with her, they got married and moved to Pennsylvania. However, the abuse got worse with time.
In 2017, she finally got a temporary restraining order against him and moved to her family’s home. He followed her there and tried to shoot her when she was alone at home. To defend herself, Jema shot him.
When Jema decided not to inform the police, her mother buried the body to hide it. However, the police found the body and arrested Jema.
Since Jema’s story did not corroborate the wounds on Javon’s body and she hid the body instead of informing the police about the crime, the jury found her guilty of manslaughter.
She was sentenced to 10 years in prison, while her mother spent 30 days in prison.
Serving Time (Episode 3):
In 2016, Toby Gregory, an Afghanistan veteran, was charged with second-degree murder.
When he was enlisted in the US Marines, he was sexually assaulted. As a result of the assault, he was diagnosed with PTSD, and he left the Marines.
He decided to re-enlist and join the army when he struggled to find work as a civilian. He was sent to Afghanistan, where he sustained a brain injury. He was once again diagnosed with PTSD and ordered to take medical retirement.
He got married to Inez Tulk, a fellow soldier, in 2013. He had a drinking problem, which caused issues with his wife.
In 2016, in a drunken state, he shot and killed his wife when they were in the middle of getting a divorce. He proceeded to shoot himself in the face. He had no recollection of the incident when he woke up.
However, Inez’s family revealed that he had been extremely controlling with her. He would also threaten to kill people. Inez decided to revise the terms that they had agreed upon in their divorce case, and the court agreed to consider her terms. The following day, he killed her.
Her family believed that he used his PTSD as an excuse to get away with anything, and Gregory’s own friend agreed with them. They argued that he should have been charged with first-degree murder.
His case never went to trial. He took a plea deal without the knowledge of Inez’s family; he pleaded guilty in exchange for a lesser charge.
He was charged with second-degree murder, as his DA argued he had diminished capacity due to his PTSD. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
A Father’s Shadow (Episode 4):
In 2019, Nasim Irsan pled guilty to murder to avoid a capital murder conviction.
Nasim’s father, Ali, was a dominating figure in his life. He had no choice but to do as he was told. He, along with his siblings, faced severe punishment if they ever defied their father.
His father did not allow him or his siblings to be friends with anyone who was not a Muslim. His elder sister, Nesreen, fell in love with a Christian man, Coty, in college.
When her father found out about her relationship, she somehow managed to escape her house. She then converted to Christianity and married Coty.
Ali believed that her actions had caused him to lose his honor. Ali blamed Nesreen’s friend, Gelareh, for her disobedience. Ali stalked her and then shot her dead. He did the same to Coty.
The police could not find Gelareh’s killer for months. When Coty was killed and Nesreen accused her father, the FBI got involved.
Ali was arrested soon after. When the FBI intercepted a call between a guilty Nasim and his father, they charged him as well. They found new evidence linking him to Gelareh’s murder, including the testimony of his own mother and cousin.
Ali was sentenced to death, while Nasim, who still claims his innocence, was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
The Bogeyman (Episode 5):
Gary Black lost his family at the age of five. He was adopted by another family, but he left home at an early age and became a procurer.
When he was 45 in 1998, he stabbed Jason Johnson to death, claiming that he tried to assault one of his prostitutes, Tammy, at a convenience store.
However, when the police checked the cameras, they found that no such incident had occurred. Gary had chased Jason and murdered him without any provocation.
Judging by the racist tattoos on his body and his own admission to being a racist as he was brought up around the Klan, they believed it to be a racially motivated crime.
It was revealed that he had a history of violent crimes. He had shot a man, Jackie Clark, after which he was sentenced to 25 years in prison and was out on parole after serving 12 years when he killed Jason. This was just one of the several other crimes he had committed.
Gary was kept in an isolated cell for almost two years, even though he is an old man in a wheelchair, as he is still extremely violent and manipulative, often causing trouble for the officers in charge and any man of color.
Gary was sentenced to death, but he agreed to plead guilty. His sentence was changed to life without the possibility of parole.
Friendly Fire (Episode 6):
In 2018, Thomas “TJ” Schifferns shot and killed his best friend, Jimmy McGregor.
TJ had been involved in petty crimes since he was young. He spent 10 years in and out of prison, after which he struggled to find a job in his small town, Red Lodge.
He and his wife, Shilo, decided to invite Jimmy, an old man who lived in a shack alone, to live with them in their house. Jimmy and TJ were best friends; they often went fishing and hunting together.
On one such trip, TJ was playing around with the gun and accidentally shot Jimmy, who died on the spot.
However, no one could believe his story for a number of reasons. For starters, TJ did not inform the police about the accident.
Instead, he hid Jimmy’s body in a place where no one would find it. He even denied having a hand in Jimmy’s death when he was initially questioned by the police.
In a small town where everyone knows everyone, people knew when Jimmy had filed for social security and when he was going to receive the money. It was around this time that TJ befriended Jimmy.
Jimmy’s friend, John Price, believed it was a relationship of convenience and that TJ was taking advantage of Jimmy.
Jimmy kept $8,000 in a safe at TJ’s house. The safe was found broken and empty after Jimmy’s death. Furthermore, the police found $1,500 among TJ’s belongings at a friend’s house.
TJ claimed that he had borrowed that money from his employer, who denied ever lending that sum to TJ. His claim of firing the gun accidentally was also proven wrong. The sheriff, with the use of the murder weapon, demonstrated that it’s impossible to fire that gun accidentally.
A signed witness statement from TJ’s friend, Kristen, revealed that he had confessed to killing Jimmy because he thought Jimmy was homeless and disrespectful. It also revealed that Jimmy had begged for his life, but TJ deliberately shot him and hid his body.
He pleaded guilty to avoid a death sentence and receive a minimum term of 30 years in prison. TJ still maintains that Jimmy’s death was an accident.