Judge Delays Sentencing For Arizona Defendant In Beating Case
An Arizona man who pleaded guilty to his involvement with beating another man to death last year will not be sentenced for another month after a his defense attorney balked at the required restitution, a judge said Friday.
David Watson Jr., who was 42 at the time of his arrest, was scheduled to be sentenced after pleading no contest in May to two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment and one felony count of aiding and abetting.
Watson and co-defendant Dwayne Bahe of Arizona met Gary Jefferson and Kameron Begay -- who in Casper working on construction projects -- and were drinking at the Sage and Sand motel on Nov. 8 when Jefferson allegedly disrespected Watson and Bahe. A fight ensued. Jefferson was beaten and kicked, and later died of his injuries. Begay was injured and hospitalized.
In March, Bahe pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated assault. In June, he was sentenced to a two- to five-year prison term.
In Watson's case, prosecutors agreed to not seek any prison time, but they could ask for a suspended jail sentence with a term of probation.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Schafer said Friday that this was still in effect, and that Watson should pay $8,000 in restitution for Begay's hospital and other bills related to the beating.
But Watson's attorney Heidi Deifel disputed the amount of restitution, saying the amount should only cover out-of-pocket expenses since insurance would cover the rest of the medical bills.
Schafer objected, saying bill collectors were hounding Begay and they needed to be paid.
Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey said he could not issue a partial sentence for potential incarceration but not restitution.
Forgey agreed to Deifel's suggestion to delay the sentencing hearing for 30 days so the restitution issues could be resolved.
But the judge also said Begay and his relatives, as well as Watson's relatives, had traveled a long way from their home states to attend the sentencing, and he allowed them to speak.
Begay told the court he lost his father-in-law and best friend and co-worker when Jefferson died.
He also has not fully recovered from his own beating, saying his memory remains faulty and his vision is impaired.
Begay's wife and Jefferson's daughter tearfully told the court that Watson and Bahe took her father in a "cruel and heartless" way. "They had a choice to stop beating my father."
She and Jefferson's widow said they didn't believe the autopsy report that he died of a heart attack. If he had a heart condition, the beating with a dumbbell and steel-toed boots aggravated it, they said.
His widow tearfully said the plea agreement isn't justice. "David (Watson) doesn't need to be in a half-way house or on probation," she said. "He needs to be behind bars."
Watson's wife defended her husband, saying they had been married for 17 years, and had five children.
Watson himself told the court he was sorry for what he had done.
He remains free on a $40,000 bond.