Joey Watkins- Georgia- Convicted in 2001 Feb 3, 2017 1:58:49 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Feb 3, 2017 1:58:49 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: northwestgeorgianews.com via Georgia Department of Corrections)
The Georgia Innocence Project has filed a request for a new trial for a Rome man convicted of murder, alleging the state withheld evidence and a juror acted inappropriately.
The group filed the petition this week in Walker County on behalf of Joey Watkins, who was convicted in Floyd County of the murder of Isaac Dawkins in 2001.
The habeas corpus petition was filed with the warden of Walker State Prison because that’s where Watkins is serving his sentence.
The Watkins case has been subject of the Undisclosed audio podcast series. In Undisclosed, attorneys Rabia Chaudry and Susan Simpson along with college professor Colin Miller attempt to find new witnesses and evidence to help people they believe have been wrongly convicted.
In that trial, evidence indicated Watkins’ cellphone was used to show his whereabouts at the time of the murder.
The defense presented an expert witness who said it was “scientifically impossible” Watkins had been present at the crime scene.
“This evidence alone initially convinced at least one juror that reasonable doubt of (Watkins’) guilt existed,” the filing stated.
But then that juror, Rogena Cordle, admitted that during the trial she did her own tests by driving around the area of the crime.
“I drove along the route he was supposed to have driven and watched the clock on my car to see if it was possible for Mr. Watkins to have driven the relevant distance within the possible time frame,” Cordle wrote in an affidavit.
It was based on that test that she decided to convict Watkins, the filing stated. Jurors are supposed to make a determination of guilt in a trial based solely on evidence presented in the court, the filing stated.
The state also withheld evidence concerning a dog found near Dawkins’ grave nearly two months after his death, according to the defense.
The prosecutor asserted that Watkins shot the dog in the head and placed it on Dawkins’ grave.
Watkins’ attorneys objected to the introduction of the dog into the trial and asked if any reports were generated or if a bullet had been recovered.
At that time, the filing states, the prosecuting attorney said no reports had been generated and the bullet was not extracted.
Georgia Innocence Project Interim Director Clare Gilbert identified the prosecuting attorney mentioned in the filing as then Floyd County District Attorney and now Judge Tami Colston.
However, Watkins’ defense alleges there was a report from a medical examiner and the bullet had been extracted from the dog.
“Significantly, and contrary to the prosecuting attorney’s and GBI’s representations, the bullet was extracted from the dog and the caliber identified,” the filing stated. “The caliber of bullet in grave dog did not match the caliber of bullet used in the murder.”
They also assert the state did not disclose a drive test, or the results of that test, conducted by law enforcement officers using cellphone data.
Watkins’ attorneys stated in the filing they feel that evidence may have been beneficial to him in trial.
Watkins has filed several appeals and has challenged his conviction in the past.
Up to this point, all of Watkins’ attempts to appeal or overturn his conviction through both the Georgia Supreme Court and federal courts have failed.
Additional article on case: coosavalleynews.com/2017/01/writ-of-habeas-corpus-filed-in-floyd-county-murder-case/
Official Georgia Innocence Project article on case: www.georgiainnocenceproject.org/undisclosed/
Undisclosed Season on Watkins case: undisclosed-podcast.com/episodes/season-2/
Thoughts? Joey Watkins is my innocence project case of the month for February 2017. According to some of the additional article links, Joey was suspected because he and Isaac reportedly clashed over a girl they used to date. Joey was known as some kind of small-town teenage bully.
I will admit I haven't listened to the podcast but it seems like an interesting case none the less. It also seems like in a small town like that it may have been impossible for Joey to get a truly fair trial. It seems he may have not been well-liked by some in town, but of course not being a likable person does not make you a murderer. (And a lot of high school or college-age young adults are arrogant at his age and calm down later in life, so that also shouldn't reflect on Joey as a person currently). I do think based on the rogue juror alone it is enough for a new trial. But that the re-trial should take place in a much further away neutral location. Locals still have memories even after 15-plus years and the facts of the case should be what matters.