The Woodward News

Local News

August 21, 2013

Day one of trial offers statements, 2 witnesses


Woodward, Okla. — OFFICERS TESTIFY

However, the only testimony heard on Tuesday was from two of the initial investigators on the case.

First to testify was Travis Riley, who is currently a corporal with the Woodward Police Department.  However in Sept. 2010, Riley was serving as a deputy with the Woodward County Sheriff's Office.

Riley testified that in that capacity he was called out in the early morning hours of Sept. 23, 2010, around 6:30 a.m., to a location approximately 7 miles south of Woodward on 34th Street (County Road N/S 201) for a reported vehicle accident.

However, upon finally locating the pickup truck in a field several hundred feet from the nearest roadway, Riley said it didn't appear to be a traffic accident.

In fact, he said he "contacted my supervisor then, Capt. Paul Cornett, because it seemed strange."

Boring asked why it seemed strange and Riley said "because I was contacted for a vehicle accident but all the damage seemed to be around his (Watkins') face and head."

During his testimony, the prosecution had Riley describe a number of photographs that he took of the crime scene which showed the location of the truck and the location of Watkins' body in the back of the pickup.

He also described how the photos showed how "the whole back half of the pickup bed on the floor was covered in blood."

In another photo, which was taken after the medical examiner had arrived and turned Watkins' body over from its side to see his face, Riley described how he observed "a lot of swelling and his bottom lip had serrations that matched up with his teeth; it looked like somebody beat him really hard."

The officer also described the signs he observed signaling how long Watkins' body had been left in the bed of the pickup, from the rigor mortis which kept his arms and legs bent even as the medical examiner turned him over, to how the blood had pooled on Watkins' left side where he had been left laying in the pickup bed.

The defense had Riley testify to other photographs taken at the crime scene which showed damage to the side of the pickup and damage to a fence, with evidence that the fence had been struck by the fence.  This evidence included scratches along the passenger side of the pickup, which Riley said looked like they were caused by barbed wire.  There was another photo showing paint transfer from the truck on a fence post.

Following Riley's testimony, his former supervisor Cornett, who is now a special agent with the Department of Agriculture, then took the stand.

Cornett was also asked to testify about many of the same photographs, as well as some aerial photographs showing a wider overhead view of the field where the pickup was located.

Like Riley, Cornett also testified about the large amount of blood in the bed of the pickup saying that was the first thing he recalled noticing at the scene.

"In my opinion, based upon the amount of blood at the location, it didn't appear to be an accident," Cornett said.

He also testified about searching the ground around the pickup for any additional blood evidence, but failed to find any blood that wasn't on the pickup.

Another portion of Cornett's testimony centered around reports he received in the days following Watkins' death about damage to fence line in that area.

The defense focused on a report of damage to a fence about a mile away from where the pickup was left.  The fence was around a field belonging to Jerry Story.

Cornett said he was notified about the damage by Story on Sept. 30, 2010, a week after Watkins' death.  He said he took photographs of the damage, which included 2 areas with 2 to 3 fence posts damaged, "where you could clearly see where a vehicle went in and came out."

Cornett said he left the photographs in the possession of the Sheriff's Office when he left for his new job in Jan. 2011.

However, Scimeca said those photos have since gone missing and are "no longer in the record of the Sheriff's Office."

After Cornett's testimony, Associate District Judge Rick Bozarth recessed for the day.

Bozarth primarily serves in Dewey County, but was appointed to hear this case by District Judge Ray Dean Linder.

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