Custody battle drew Williston dad to Idaho, where he was fatally shot before seeing kids

James Robert Brashear, 67, of Winchester, Idaho, is accused of fatally shooting his son-in-law, 40-year-old John Allen Mast, in Lewiston, Idaho. The crime is a capital offense.

John Mast.jpg
John Mast

LEWISTON, Idaho — A North Dakota man was shot and killed by his father-in-law in Idaho on Feb. 5, the same day he was to meet his two children after a roughly three-year custody battle that began in Williston, N.D., police alleged in court documents.

James Robert Brashear of Winchester, Idaho, was arraigned Feb. 8 in Nez Perce County Magistrate Court on a first-degree murder charge, a capital offense in Idaho. Court documents alleged the 67-year-old fatally shot his son-in-law, 40-year-old John Allen Mast, in Lewiston.

Prosecutor Justin Coleman said his office has not determined whether it would seek the death penalty in the case.

Lewiston police found Mast with gunshot wounds around 6 p.m. Feb. 5, at Rosauers, a supermarket at 332 Thain Road, according to court documents. Brashear, who had a 9mm pistol, was taken into custody at the scene without incident, a criminal complaint said.


James Brashear

Brashear told police his daughter, Rebecca Brashear-Mast, and Mast had been embroiled in a yearslong custody battle, the court documents said. He accused Mast of sexually abusing the Mast children, but no criminal charges were filed, according to court documents.

Divorce filings from Williams County (N.D.) District Court detail the proceedings that began in January 2018. Brashear-Mast also filed a domestic violence protection order in December 2017.

Brashear-Mast accused her husband of domestic violence before fleeing from Williston to Idaho with their children in the fall of 2017, Mast's family said. Court documents confirm the Mast and his wife separated in October 2017.

Williams County Judge Josh Rustad said in a May 2020 ruling there was no evidence Mast abused neither his wife nor children. Rustad granted him the right to see his children unsupervised every other weekend starting Feb. 5, court documents said.

Mast moved to Lewiston sometime in 2020 to be closer to his children, his family said

Brashear-Mast, who was given primary custody, asked the judge this month to overturn Mast’s rights to unsupervised visits, a motion Rustad denied on Feb. 5.

Brashear told police the children were crying and afraid to go with their father, so he “decided at that time he was going to go to Rosauers and kill Mast,” the court documents alleged.


Mast, who was shot at least three times, was taken to a hospital but died.

Brashear's next hearing is Wednesday, Feb. 17. Brashear's court-appointed attorney said the defendant retained another attorney, but that lawyer's name had not been listed as of publication time.

The children remain in Brashear-Mast’s custody. Her attorney, Jennifer Gooss, did not return a message left by The Forum.

Mast was born in Meadville, Penn., but moved with his family to Libby, Mont., when he was 13 years old, according to his obituary. He married Brashear-Mast in 2009 and moved to Williston in 2012.

Mast had a healthy bond with his kids, his brother Samuel said. His obituary said he took his kids fishing and had tea parties with his daughter.

“John was just a solid guy,” he said. “My heart breaks, even before this happened.”

John Mast would never harm his children and fought for them to have a relationship with both him and Brashear-Mast, Samuel Mast said.

"All of the allegations were completely false," Samuel Mast said of claims against his brother. "He was completely exonerated every time the judge made a judgment on his case."

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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