Archive for Friday, August 18, 2000

Suspect in Amy Watkins slaying indicted in New York

August 18, 2000


— A grand jury has indicted a Brooklyn man on first-degree murder charges in the fatal mugging of a graduate student from Kansas.

The indictment, filed Thursday in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn, alleges David Jamison, 27, stabbed Amy Watkins in the back as she was walking home after dark on March 8, 1999. Last week, an alleged lookout in the fatal robbery, Felix Rodriguez, was indicted on second-degree murder charges.

Dist. Atty. Charles Hynes has 120 days from the time Jamison is arraigned to decide whether to pursue a capital case; no date for arraignment was set. Hynes has sought the death penalty in seven other cases.

Jamison's attorney, Samuel Gregory, said Thursday that his client denies the charges. So has Rodriguez.

Earlier this month, Lawrence Watkins told reporters he wanted a severe prison sentence for his child's killer. "The death penalty would almost be an easy way out," he said.

The slaying of Watkins shocked her neighbors in Prospect Heights, a quiet neighborhood of brownstones a short subway ride from Manhattan. It came at a time when the city was in the midst of a dramatic downturn in violent crime.

Watkins, 26, who was raised in Topeka, was studying for her masters in social work, counseling battered women and working with children. On the night of her death, she had taken the subway home from the Bronx, where she was an intern at a community center.

Police said Jamison, Rodriguez and possibly a second accomplice, saw Watkins walk by the restaurant they were in and decided she would be an easy robbery target.

Watkins apparently struggled with her attacker before being stabbed once in the back with a 10-inch kitchen knife, police said. The bandits fled with only a few dollars.

Detectives picked up Jamison for questioning Aug. 2 based in part on a tip from a caller to the Crime Stoppers hot line. A $12,000 reward had been offered.

Prosecutors allege that Jamison agreed during an interrogation to give a videotaped confession. His attorney said he would be "challenging that statement on a number of different grounds."

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