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Man accused of murdering Atlantic Coast High School teacher appears in court

Perkins was arrested Dec. 28, hours after James was found dead inside her Westside home in the 500 block of Glen Alan Court North.

The man facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of Atlantic Coast High School teacher Vivian James was arraigned in court Monday.

Zebulon Perkins will have a pre-trial hearing on March 18. He was reportedly found with the vehicle that belonged to James, who was 49, and killed in December. JSO revealed that she died from strangulation.

Perkins was arrested Dec. 28, hours after James was found dead inside her Westside home in the 500 block of Glen Alan Court North. 

Police discovered her body around 7:41 a.m. after they were called out to the home in response to a home invasion robbery. They said several items were missing from her home, including identification cards, credit cards and her 2007 Toyota Camry.

Credit: First Coast News

Perkins was found with her vehicle at the Hospitality Inn & Suites at 7071 103rd St. at 10:41 a.m., throwing out items, according to police records. 

He was detained and charged with dealing in stolen property, a felony.

On Dec. 29, police searched the vehicle and found Perkins' bag, which contained a bloody pair of sweat pants, the Arlo camera from the victim's home and three laptops, according to the police report. Her cell phone and credit cards were also found during the search, police reported.

JSO charged Perkins with James' murder. 

Several sources, including a close family friend, said Perkins was James' former neighbor. Neighbors said Perkins moved from the neighborhood a couple of years ago and did handy work on James' home, including mowing her lawn and installing a camera security system.  

"It was really uneasy around here because you don't know who it could be," said Blanche Day, James' neighbor. "Anybody could have been looking at you."

RELATED: Man arrested in connection to Jacksonville teacher's death had violent past, released from jail in Sept. 2019

According to JSO's inmate log, Perkins' arrest record dates back to 2012 and he has been arrested nine times. Excluding his most recent arrest linked to Vivian James' death in December, his most recent arrest was in May 2019.

Several of the charges related to those arrests include batteries. In 2014, Perkins was arrested and charged with domestic battery, domestic battery by strangling and a domestic assault. He was held for three days in jail and was released on a bond. He was also told not to contact the victim.  

In June of 2015, Perkins was arrested again and charged with, among other things, battery causing harm with a weapon. In September of 2017, he was charged with battery causing bodily harm.

Perkins was arrested again in March of 2018 and charged with another battery, among other charges on that arrest. A few months later in November, Perkins was charged with domestic battery. He served 21 days in jail and got out for time served. 

In May of 2019, Perkins violated probation, and then resisted an officer with violence. He served 48 days for the case and was released Sept. 1, 2019, a little more than three months before James was found dead in her home.

James was a science teacher at Atlantic Coast High School.

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