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Marjorie Gawitt, 63,was found stabbed 'upwards of 50 times' in her Carlsbad home after a predawn attack on Monday.
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Drifters plead not guilty in ‘brutal’ Carlsbad slaying

CARLSBAD — A pair of transients were arraigned Wednesday afternoon at Vista Superior Court in connection with Monday’s predawn home-invasion robbery and stabbing death of a 63-year-old Carlsbad resident.

Ian Forrester Bushee, 37, and Malissa James, 26, pleaded not guilty to multiple felony charges including first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and auto theft. 

James is also facing a separate charge of torture in the fatal attack against Marjorie Gawitt. 

Ian Forrester Bushee

Superior Court Judge James Simmons, Jr. denied bail for both defendants. 

Due to the severity of the allegations, both Bushee and James could face the death penalty if convicted, according to San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Nicole Rooney.

“We do think this is a case where no bail is absolutely warranted,” Rooney said. “This was a brutal, violent attack,” adding that both defendants are a danger to the community and pose a flight risk due to their transient status.

James, shackled and wearing a bandage on her thumb, was seated in the courtroom while Bushee stood behind a glass partition as the prosecutor described the brutal series of events that unfolded shortly after midnight on Monday, March 11.

At approximately 12:30 a.m., the defendants broke into Gawitt’s home as she slept to commit a residential burglary.

According to Rooney, the victim suffered a brutal attack and was stabbed “upwards of 50 times in her face, neck and back.”

Gawitt survived the attack long enough to call 911 and was taken to a local hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead.

After stabbing the victim, both suspects fled in the victim’s car which was found abandoned with the interior covered in blood around 5:30 a.m. on Grand Avenue in San Marcos, according to investigators. 

Bushee and James were arrested a few hours later at Park Drive and Neblina Drive, near Agua Hedionda Lagoon in Carlsbad, several blocks from the original crime scene.

In the days leading up to the murder, both Bushee and James were residing in a homeless encampment just north of the lagoon located behind Gawitt’s home on Outrigger Lane, according to the Carlsbad Police Department. 

In 2018, Bushee and James were convicted of residential burglary as co-defendants in San Bernandino County and were still on parole at the time of Gawitt’s death.

Both defendants are scheduled to appear for a readiness conference on March 21 and a preliminary hearing on March 27 at the Vista courthouse.

Bushee was booked into Vista Detention Facility and James at Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee.

The victim’s family members attended the arraignment and wept throughout the brief hearing. 

Carlsbad police on Wednesday said they would hold a community meeting at 5:30 p.m. on March 20 at the Department’s safety training center at 5750 Orion Street.


Does not matter April 19, 2019 at 10:55 am

Straight up i dont even think he did it .i think he trusted the erong bitch . Look in ians eyes people .

not the whole story April 22, 2019 at 8:51 pm

‘does not matter’ i agree. i know him well and he’d never have done this. trusting the cops to look deep into this

None of your business March 16, 2019 at 8:04 pm

I honestly don’t like the black comment the person made above. Gun ownership isn’t illegal so if the lady owned a gun she could have used it against these crazy people. Black or white or Mexican has nothing to do with it. Why do our opinions have to sound so ignorant? I mean clearly everyone feels bad about what happened to this elderly lady, and homeless people should not be allowed to roam around unchecked. So something has to be done. But making ignorant racist statements isn’t going to make it happen, coming up with sensible plans and taking action will. So to the first comment or, go read a book and educate yourself and ask someone unbiased to read your comments before you post something that makes you sound like a complete idiot.

Tom A. March 15, 2019 at 2:59 pm

This is a horrific crimes committed by purely evil people and pure evil people should be put to death. A death sentence is reserved for the worse of the worse and is rendered only of after a fair trial and verdict reached by twelve jurors of the accused. The governor is delinquent in his duty to the citizens of California; he should follow the will of the people and evaluate each case on an individual basis. If he does not have the moral fortitude to carry out the duties of the position he should abdicate his throne.

cw May 2, 2019 at 1:59 am

All i do know is that there is somewhere over in this same area by that lagoon off of las flores between there and the mall that either makes and manufacturers meth or is used as a major stash house for selling it out of. I wish i knew more than that as i never went there someone else did and I know Marjoree’s face. Im pretty sure she frequently shopped at the Costco in Carlsbad. She was a very nice woman and didnt deserve to be treated this way.

Patty Williamson March 15, 2019 at 2:07 pm

I don’t understand how the victim’s vehicle was found in San Marcos. Are the police stating these two drove it to San Marcos and then caught a ride back to the crime scene? Perhaps there was another person involved?

Jw March 15, 2019 at 3:59 am

They were also arrested together in Arizona in February 2018. Drug possession, shocking. Sounds like meth to me.

RW March 15, 2019 at 1:13 am

The homeless should be thrown in jail! That’s what they do in any civilized city like Scottsdale!

Barbara Yunk March 14, 2019 at 10:23 pm

Many in the homeless population are drug-addicted or mentally ill or both. They are not just people who are “down on their luck.” If you want to see the results of allowing thousands of them to “camp out” in the bushes just take a trip to downtown San Diego. There you can catch hepatitis just walking down the street. The sidewalks are littered with human feces and trash. The schizophrenic homeless often attack regular people just going about their business. Do we really want this in Carlsbad? Let’s put a stop to it now.

Scott March 14, 2019 at 9:14 pm

Love to follow you on Twitter, your views are right on!

Dan Cohen March 14, 2019 at 3:45 pm

Why not call this couple what they really are…homeless, not drifters but homeless people. Has the author perhaps been trained by Cultural Marxists to ‘deflect’ who they really are? Is it a ‘drifter’ or a homeless person? Is it an ‘undocumented refugee’ or an illegal alient? BTW, why did you only include a photo of the man and not the woman as if she wasn’t complicit, a little sexist over there or maybe even a little racist if she was black? So long as bleeding heart Cultural Marxists attempt to ban personal firearm ownership (the only thing that could have kept this dear lady alive) we can expect more citizens to be brutally murdered in their own homes late at night by homeless persons. The ‘homeless depots’ like the Encinitas Community Resources Center and St Andrews Episcopal Church Thursday food giveaways should all CEASE and DESIST of all freebie handouts until a system of accountability and identification is in place so that these mentally ill and murderous homeless people can be monitored before they stab another mother/daughter/grandmother more than fifty times in her face, neck and torso and in her own home. Time to toughen up neighbors.

carrie May 2, 2019 at 1:45 am

No they are convicts from another county where known already to law enforcement. And they are thieves. Thieves 99.9% of them dont change. Even the ones who get off drugs who still steal.

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