Watson found guilty of rape, robbery
Published 3:30 pm Friday, July 27, 2007
Sentenced to at least 47 years in prison
By CHRISTINA HALE
After a four-day trial, it took a Beaufort County jury only two hours of deliberation Thursday afternoon to find Dock Watson, 32, formerly of Chocowinity, guilty of first-degree rape and robbery with a firearm.
Watson was sentenced to no less than 36 years in prison for the rape and no less than 11 years in prison for the robbery charge. He could serve as many as 44 years for the rape and as long as 14 years for the robbery conviction. He was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Alma Hinton.
Watson is currently serving time in prison for a rape conviction in 2005. At the expiration of that sentence in 2035, he will serve Thursday’s sentence and will not be eligible for release until 2082.
Watson, who continues to proclaim his innocence, hung his head and looked at the floor as the jury declared a guilty verdict.
His sister, Jennifer Clark, believes the victim identified the wrong man. “I’m not saying she wasn’t raped, but it wasn’t Dock,” Clark said in a previous interview.
The victim, a 31-year-old Angier resident and Washington native, testified that Watson robbed and raped her at gunpoint on July 11, 2003 at a downtown store in Washington where she worked.
Defense Attorney Maynard Harrell argued in his closing statements Thursday that witnesses misidentified Watson because of discrepancies in height descriptions as well as identified another man before Watson.
During deliberations, the jury asked for permission to examine the photo lineups in the case. In the first lineup, the victim and another witness identified a man that was not Watson, claiming he most resembled the suspect. In the second lineup, they both chose Watson.
The jury also requested the police sketches of the suspect. Hinton denied the request to see the sketches because they had not been introduced into evidence.
The jury did view the photo lineups.
Harrell also urged the jury to consider lack of physical evidence in the state’s case against his client.
Edwards argued that having a lack of evidence in the case didn’t clear Watson.
When Watson was arrested, he immediately offered police his DNA, Edwards said. “Well, sure he did.”
Cyndi Bowen, one of the witnesses who testified, got so close to the suspect on the day of the crime that she “could see the engraving on his hoop ear ring,” Edwards said. Bowen also identified Watson.
Watson was standing behind Bowen’s son, Christopher, on the street that day because he was “looking for a getaway car,” Edwards told the jury.
After the verdict, the victim said, “Seth Edwards did an excellent job.”
Another family member said, “We’re happy it’s over.”
Detective Brad Boyd, who investigated the case, said, “Justice prevails.”
Watson’s family members and supporters left the courtroom shortly after he was sentenced. Court officers had to escort his sister and another man back into the courtroom because of a disturbance.
The man had issued “threats to the husband of the victim,” Edwards said.
Clark made “improper comments to a juror leaving the courthouse,” he said.
Hinton charged Clark with harassment of a juror. Clark was held on a $20,000 bond.
Edwards said, “I’m very relieved for the victim and the family. This has been weighing over them for four years. … (The victim) has come a long way emotionally since this happened. … She’s gotten married and had children and is moving on with her life.”