Joey Watkins is innocent.
You don’t have to take our word for it. Take the word of Dr. Paul Steffes, a well-respected scientist and professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has testified in a number of criminal cases as an expert witness for the prosecution – including in the September 2000 hearing that led to the admissibility of cell phone evidence in Georgia criminal trials. Dr. Steffes has this to say about Joey’s case: “The cell phone evidence in this case is clear-cut and unambiguous. Watkins’ cell phone could not have been at the crime scene when the shooting took place.”
Joey Watkins has proclaimed his innocence for almost 20 years, since the day he first became a suspect in the January 11, 2000 shooting death of a young man in Floyd County, Georgia. The prosecuting attorney managed to convince a jury that while Joey drove a vehicle and spoke on his cell phone, his passenger and co-defendant Mark Free shot and killed the victim as the victim was driving a different car. It is absolutely undisputed that Joey Watkins was with his cell phone when the shooting took place.
Joey proclaimed his innocence at trial, when his defense attorneys tried to explain the significance of the cell phone evidence that definitively proved that Joey Watkins could not have been at the crime scene at the time of the shooting.
He proclaimed his innocence when sentenced to life in prison for murder, decrying the mistaken verdict to the Judge and anyone who would listen: “They can send me to prison, but I just want the [victim’s] family to know that justice has not been done. I had nothing to do with this, and I will say it ‘til the day I die.”
Joey’s innocence was again apparent at his co-defendant Mark Free’s murder trial, when Mark’s attorneys did a better job explaining the significance of the same exculpatory cell phone evidence, and Mark was acquitted.
Joey explained his innocence again in his first habeas corpus petition and hearing, when he argued that he was actually innocent and that his trial lawyers were ineffective for not adequately explaining the scientific cell phone evidence that proved his innocence.
But at every turn, the powers that be – the people who would decide Joey’s fate and avoid or rectify the ultimate miscarrage of justice – turned a blind eye. Maybe the prosecutor’s twisted, implausible theory of guilt was simply more intriguing and salacious than the dry and apparently confusing scientific evidence of innocence. Maybe as the status quo of Joey’s conviction grew, the law of inertia prevailed. Or maybe the powers that be just did not care.
Last week, in a two-sentence decision, the powers that be again turned a blind eye to Joey Watkins’ quest for justice.
Check out tomorrow’s blog post for more information.