Watson’s taped confession played for jurors

Published 6:21 pm Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The trial of Quentin Watson, accused of murdering former Daily News advertising representative Anita Smith and her nephew, William Lewis, in Franklinton on Feb. 6, 2008, continued today in the Washington Parish Courthouse.

The taped interview of Watson after his arrest as the main focus of the prosecution. Watson has recanted the confession made during that interview, stating he was coerced.

Watson, 31, faces two counts of first-degree murder. He will be imprisoned for life without parole if convicted in the murders that occurred at Smith’s home on 14th Avenue in the East Acres Subdivision. Smith was arrested a year-and-a-half after the murders when DNA linked him to the crime.

The tape showed a sometimes confused, sometimes tearful Watson insisting, “I did not kill anybody, man.” The two-and-a-half hour interview tape was viewed by jurors as well as spectators in the courtroom, about two dozen friends and family of the victims and the accused.

Meanwhile, a docile Watson, dressed in a striped green dress shirt, dark green tie and matching trousers, sat facing the judge during the proceedings.

Halfway through the taped interview Watson told a story about “guy named Jeff in an F150 truck with Florida plates.” He said the man had Watson direct him to the house because “a guy there owed Jeff money.” He said Jeff had threatened him and his family if he told anyone about him. Watson said he did not know Jeff’s last name.

“I didn’t get out of the car,” Watson said.

He also said Jeff had called him on his cell phone, but he couldn’t remember the cell phone number because he’s had so many of them.

The two police interrogators explained to Watson that they found his DNA on one of the bullet casings and that Watson would ultimately go “from here to Washington Parish Jail until the trial and then to Angola or another prison.”

They said fingerprints are not found on bullets after they are shot unless someone picks up the casing. Normally, the casings show no fingerprints.

“If this was an accident or you made a mistake, I need to know it was a mistake. Her (Smith’s) children broke down and cried when I told them you were arrested. This was their biggest fear — that it was someone they knew,” said Louisiana State Trooper Richard Newman on the interview video.

Another interviewer told him, “You’ve got to man up, tell the truth. It will make you feel better.”

On the video, Watson sobbed, telling another version of the events of that night, that he had been hooked on prescription pain killers, needed something and went to Smith’s house to get pills. Her nephew walked in on their conversation, screamed at Watson to get out and then left. Watson then reported on the video that he thought Lewis had gone for a gun, so Watson shot him when Lewis returned. Smith then ran to the kitchen where Watson thought she had a gun, so he shot her as well, Watson said on the videotape as he sobbed.

Watson showed no emotion during the replay of the video in the courtroom.

The prosecution did have the fingerprints and DNA on the bullet casing and Watson’s bloody footprints surrounded the bodies, according to the video. His footprint was also found on Lewis’ back, as reported on the video.

However, no gun bearing the serial number of Watson’s gun was ever retrieved or tested for ballistics.

Jurors were able to view all the evidence, including the written reports, which are not allowed out of the courtroom; photo images of evidence; and if they wished, a deputy was available to show them any evidence bagged.

After viewing all evidence, the proceedings ended for the day.

22nd Judicial Judge William “Rusty” Knight then adjourned the court until 9 a.m. tomorrow. He said he anticipates the trial will conclude and go to jury deliberation tomorrow.