James Henry Bratt: Meth, ankle monitor and fatal stabbing of James Bidgood

The eleventh homicide of 2012 in Colorado Springs is an extremely sordid tale.

The victim: James Bidgood, a local homeless man. The accused: James Henry Bratt, a 36-year-old with a noteworthy criminal record. The ingredients: domestic violence, an ankle monitor, meth and more. A lot more.

On May 30, according to the Colorado Springs Police Department, officers received a report of a dead body near 100 Metzler Place. There, in the vicinity of a makeshift camp, they found James Bidgood, a homeless man they recognized from prior interactions. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that the city's Homeless Outreach Team tried to help him with his assorted addictions to booze and drugs over a three-year period, providing him with a roof at a transitional housing complex along the way.

But the assorted fixes didn't stick, and Bidgood wouldn't get another chance. A police report cited by the Gazette notes that he had approximately ten stab wounds in his torso and another couple in the throat.

Such cases are notoriously difficult to crack. But the CSPD caught a break after being called to an East Cheyenne Road home on a domestic violence complaint. There, Donna Eaton is said to have informed officers that Bratt, with whom she lived, had said he was responsible for Bidgood's demise.

What happened? In the arrest affidavit's narrative, Eaton tells cops that she and Bratt got into a spat last week over his desire to score some meth -- not a great idea under any circumstances, but even more dubious in this one, given that he was fitted with an ankle monitor.

The anklet was only the latest of several gifts he's received from law enforcement over the years. The Gazette notes that Bratt previously earned room and board in barred cells thanks to offenses such as burglary, drug possession, criminal impersonation and fleeing a felony conviction.

If investigators are right, Bratt soon stepped up the seriousness of his behavior. He allegedly told Eaton he'd been sharing wine at the aforementioned campsite when he stabbed Bidgood in what he claimed was self-defense. And he did indeed sport some injuries, including a cut on one knee and what's described as a "possible puncture" of his right rear thigh.

Afterward, Eaton tipped officers, Bratt had apparently ditched his clothes in a dumpster and hid his knife, perhaps in a bucket containing a plastic tree.

Shortly thereafter, Bratt was taken into custody on suspicion of first-degree murder. He's expected to make a court appearance this afternoon, when, presumably, he'll have no further need of that ankle monitor -- since authorities will know precisely where to find him.

Here's a larger look at his booking photos.

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More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Bobby Harris busted for stabbing wife Angela Moser to death in Colorado Springs."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts