NORFOLK, Va. – Bashirah Shamirah Tripp, a 35-year-old Portsmouth woman, was sentenced in Norfolk Circuit Court on Friday, March 11, 2022, to 18 years in prison for a 2020 aggravated malicious wounding of her husband James Irving Johnson Jr. that left him in a coma and resulted in his death nearly 15 months later.
On Aug. 6, 2020, Ms. Tripp was at the JANAF Shopping Center in Norfolk with her husband Mr. Johnson, then-34 years old and with whom she shares two children. Mr. Johnson had finished work for the day and Ms. Tripp picked him up from work. After an argument ensued, during which Ms. Tripp threw some of Mr. Johnson’s belongings out of the vehicle, Ms. Tripp left Mr. Johnson behind at JANAF and drove away. Ms. Tripp returned minutes later. Mr. Johnson was on his telephone and did not see Ms. Tripp, and as Mr. Johnson stepped from the sidewalk to the roadway, Ms. Tripp sped at Mr. Johnson and hit him with her car. The impact threw him into the air and caused his head to hit the ground, breaking his skull and inflicting on him a severe and eventually fatal brain injury. Ms. Tripp hit two other vehicles, stopped, got out of her car and, as Mr. Johnson lay on the ground unconscious, took the bumper that had broken off her car and proceeded to beat Mr. Johnson with it, yelling and screaming at him.
The Norfolk Police arrested Ms. Tripp, who admitted that she was going to leave her husband at JANAF but, when she saw him walk across the roadway, she turned around and hit him with the vehicle in a fit of rage.
Mr. Johnson never woke up. He spent the last 15 months of his life in a coma, endured numerous surgeries, and lived on a feeding tube until he died of his injuries in October 2021.
Ms. Tripp pleaded guilty to the aggravated malicious wounding of Mr. Johnson in September 2021. Norfolk Circuit Court Judge Jerrauld C. Jones sentenced Ms. Tripp to 18 years in prison, suspending another 12 years in prison on the conditions of uniform good behavior and completion of 5 years’ supervised probation.
“Bashirah Tripp killed James Johnson on August 6, 2020, even if it took him another 15 months to die,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi. “Mr. Johnson should be alive today, but because of Ms. Tripp’s cruel and unnecessary crime, he is gone. I hope that today’s sentence brings peace to Mr. Johnson’s loved ones. Whether the weapon is a gun, a knife, or a car, we will do all we can to hold accountable the people who kill our fellow citizens.”
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Graham M. Stolle prosecuted Ms. Tripp’s case. Please contact Nia Tariq at 757-620-5454 for more information.