Robert "Bobby" Wilson had worked as an adjunct law professor at the Maricopa County Community College District for more than 20 years before his boss told him in August he was being fired.
Wilson, a former candidate for the Arizona Senate, was miffed at the abruptness of the termination, and the lack of an explanation.
In his mind, he couldn't have been fired simply because of recent revelations that he reportedly confessed in 1963 to murdering his mother and sister, had turned in his law license after a conviction for forgery, and had allegedly threatened a man during a homeowner's meeting as recently as 2016.
It must have been anti-Republican bias, the 74-year-old concluded.
At the time he was dismissed, Wilson was running as a Republican for a seat in Legislative District 2, which covers Nogales and parts of greater Tucson.
Following the "hateful gossip" in the news media, the college district officials should have had the "decency" to call him in for a meeting after the revelations to get his side of the story, Wilson said.
"Give somebody due process before you dump on them," he said.
Wilson is now suing the community college district for $20 million in damages over the firing. He's worked at Rio Salado College since 1995 as a business law adjunct professor and developer of paralegal courses, according to the federal complaint filed in Arizona U.S. District court last week.
He claims in the complaint that the district's governing board, Chancellor Maria Harper-Marinick, and Rio Salado College Interim President Kate Smith committed various constitutional violations that led to his wrongful firing.
"Wilson contends he was quite possible [sic] fired because of his Republican Party affiliation and his candidacy for state office on the Republican ticket," the complaint states.
Wilson became an overnight sensation last summer after he said during a July 9 candidate forum that sometimes "a good guy with a gun" was needed to save the day — and that he knew it was true because he once he had to shoot his own mother in self-defense.
Arizona Daily Star reporter Joe Ferguson's video of Wilson's drink-spitter of a revelation went viral, and news outlets all over the world jumped on the story.
Yet Wilson still nearly won the August 28 primary, getting 6,164 votes to fellow Republican Shelley Kais' 6,800.
Republican Bobby Wilson tells the audience that there is no need for more gun control legislation, but sometimes circumstances require a “good guy with a gun.” pic.twitter.com/u92Bf86xIg— Joe Ferguson (@joeferguson) July 10, 2018
When New Times reached Wilson on Tuesday, he said he was at his home in Green Valley, working on the wording of a libel lawsuit against the Arizona Republic, which he believes published articles that resulted in his job loss.
The way Wilson describes it, nearly everyone is out to get him.
The story he told at the candidate forum involved his crazed mother attacking him and his sister, a tale he has related in a self-published 2010 book that few knew about until last summer. In an interview with the Arizona Republic reporter, Alison Steinbach, he said his mother burst into the room, shooting at him. When his sister came to his aid, she "caved" in her head with a rifle butt, he reportedly said. He continued to Steinbach that he shot his mom in self-defense. His family stored gasoline in glass jars in his bedroom, and because a ricochet broke the jars, the house blew up when he turned on a light switch, he reportedly said.
However, as the Republic reported, an Oklahoma newspaper from the era reported that the bodies of Lavonne and Judy Wilson were found in the debris "in a 'perfectly relaxed' position, indicating they died in their sleep from suffocation." Further, Wilson allegedly had admitted to shooting his mom and bashing his sister's head in with the butt of a rifle. He later claimed severe amnesia about the events, leading a judge to dismiss his case a few years later.
"It's called trauma," he told New Times, when asked about the source his amnesia.
The writer of the 1963 newspaper article was a liar, Wilson said. And in that article, where it states that a "Sheriff Thornton" helped solve the crime, Wilson said the sheriff lied about the facts in the case.
Authorities at the time never produced his alleged confession, which he claims never happened, and never produced evidence of a murder, he said.
Another Republic article on August 13 quotes Dan Dimovski, president of the Las Palmas HOA, about an incident in which Wilson broke a door at a homeowners meeting and threatened him. Wilson and his wife denied in the article that Dimovski was threatened, but Wilson admitted breaking the door.
He said he understands that even if the college district's officials had met with him after the salacious stories, they might not have wanted him to continue working at the district because he'd be a "hot potato." Yet he would have at least expected severance pay, he said.
Wilson also denied facts about his forgery conviction and 1994 resignation under fire from the Texas State Bar despite online evidence. Pressed about whether he had been truthful with the college district about the status of his Texas law license, his glib answers faltered.
"That's not my letter," Wilson blurted when asked about a 1994 resignation letter in online court documents that appears to bear his signature. Then he hung up.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Amy Starnes, a State Bar of Texas spokesperson, told New Times on Tuesday that records show Wilson "resigned in lieu of discipline" in August 1994.
A spokesperson from the Maricopa County Community Colleges District said the district was unable to immediately comment on the complaint. At publication time, the Arizona Republic had not responded to requests for comments about the allegations against the newspaper,
Wilson is acting as his own lawyer in the case.