UPDATE: Kevin Watkins was found guilty on both counts of murder Friday afternoon. Read our full coverage of the verdict here.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Kevin Watkins began his testimony at Dec. 9, 2015 – 15 days before the night he’s accused of murdering two teenagers at his east side home.
Watkins took the stand Friday morning as the first and only witness called by his defense. His testimony followed four days of evidence presented by prosecutors about the deaths of 15-year-old Timmee Jackson and 16-year-old Satori Dionne Williams.
FULL COVERAGE | Day 1: Bail bondsman Kevin Watkins killed two teens in self-defense, attorneys argue in trial opener | Day 2: Jurors see tomahawk, teen’s shallow grave | Day 3: Forensic pathologist says wounds indicate teens likely killed from behind | Day 4: Blood on duct tape, spatter on wall matched slain teens
It was on Dec. 9, Watkins said, that all the trouble started.
According to Watkins, he and his wife were attending a company Christmas party when they received a call from their daughter “in a panic” about someone trying to break into their house.
Watkins returned home to find a window unexplainedly open – but otherwise no evidence of a crime.
Almost 10 days later, Watkins and his wife again returned from a Christmas party. This time, though, something was wrong.
“I immediately noticed a brick on the loveseat and there was glass on the brick, glass on the loveseat and glass on the floor,” Watkins said.
Watkins, a bail bondsman by trade, said he drew his firearm and searched his house looking for anyone who may have been inside. During his search, it became obvious the house had been robbed. Among the items taken were a television and four of Watkins’ guns.
He called the police to report the burglary. Two days later, a friend of his daughter’s name Tashima Yarbrough called to say she might have information on who was behind the burglary.
Watkins testified that he went over to Yarbrough’s house and questioned her, but denied ever saying there would be a “bloodbath” – as Yarbrough and another witness called by the state testified he said – if he didn’t get his guns back.
A few days later, the KFC where Watkins’ daughter worked was robbed. He showed up on scene and asked, “innocently, very innocently,” he said, to see the surveillance video. His attorney, Jeff Neel, suggested Watkins feared some of his stolen guns might have been used in the crime.
Watkins also offered a different version for his encounter with a teen named Xaveon Turner than the one prosecutors offered.
In that encounter, which occurred on Dec. 20, 2015 – and for which Watkins is facing charges of criminal confinement and impersonation of a public servant in a separate case – prosecutors have accused Watkins of posing as a law enforcement officer and handcuffing Turner while he questioned him about the burglary at his house.
Watkins told the story differently. He said when Turner saw him he “gave me a look like he knew me. And I’ve never met this man before.”
Watkins said Turner then swung at him. He said he handcuffed Turner at that point for his own safety. He also said he identified himself as a bail bondsman and never as a law enforcement officer.
Despite testimony by a second witness, Watkins again claimed he never threatened a “bloodbath” if he didn’t get his guns back by Christmas.
Watkins also testified about another occasion when he came out of his house to see three individuals, one possibly carrying a long rifle, standing in his backyard. He said they ran off before he could confront them.
By Christmas Eve, Watkins testified that he was in distress for the safety of his family.
“I felt stalked. I felt attacked,” he said.
During the late afternoon and early evening hours, Watkins said he saw multiple vehicles park for short periods outside of his house. One of them he believed to be an SUV and male he’d seen when he’d confronted Turner.
Watkins said because of the burglary and subsequent issues, he’d begun patrolling his property at night. On the night of Christmas Eve 2015, he said he decided to arm himself with a tactical tomahawk before going outside.
Watkins said he believed it was only a matter of time before the people who burglarized his house came back.
“I’m thinking, they didn’t get the safe, and they got these kinds of guns,” Watkins said. “They’re gonna come back.”
All of that was going through his mind, he said, when he walked outside to find two individuals in his front yard.
What happened next, in Watkins’ telling, was an act of self-defense.
Watkins testified that one of the individuals, later identified as Williams, drew a gun on him.
“As he’s pulling his gun, immediately I pull my tomahawk and I strike him,” Watkins said. “I’m just trying to protect myself.”
Watkins said the blow didn’t stop the attack, which was then joined by the other individual, later identified as Jackson.
“They’re advancing and I’m striking and it’s like a blur,” Watkins said.
Eventually, Watkins said, both teens were lying on the ground incapacitated, so he went to his SUV to get a pistol. One the way back, he said he kicked something – Williams’ firearm, which turned out to be a BB gun.
At that point, Watkins’ and prosecutors’ versions of events return closer to alignment – although the motivations are drastically different.
As was testified to earlier in the trial, Watkins dragged both teens’ bodies around the back of his house. He said he did so because he feared retaliation from other people he thought were with them. Eventually he loaded them into his SUV and drove to his bail bondsman office. While there, he stopped at the gas station across the street to fill up his tank.
Then, Watkins said, he “got in my truck and just drove and drove and drove. Way out, like in farmland.”
It was there, along a country road in Shelby County, that Watkins buried Williams’ body.
After finishing, he drove back to the east side of Indianapolis, where he buried Jackson near a retention pond. Before leaving, Watkins threw the tomahawk into the water.
Watkins ended his evening by returning to his bail bondsman office, and then to his house, where he attempted to clean up some of the blood on his porch as morning came.
Watkins repeatedly explained his behavior after the boys were dead by saying he wasn’t in his right mind, that he wasn’t thinking clearly. As for the actions that caused their death, Watkins ended his testimony by saying again he thought he was defending himself and his family.
“I just felt like they were going to come in on my family and kill us,” Watkins said.
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