The Woodward News

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August 23, 2013

Jury to get murder case Friday



The defense then called 5 witnesses, including both of the former co-defendants in the case Jeffrey Shawn Spencer and Dillan Shane Hager, who were each previously convicted and sentenced in connection with Watkins' death.  

Although Spencer testified for the prosecution on Wednesday, he was primarily recalled by the defense to testify about the time that passed between the assault that occurred on Watkins and when Hager took the pickup field jumping.

After reviewing a transcript of his previous testimony from a preliminary hearing, Spencer said he believes about an hour passed.  However, he said he couldn't testify to any exact times.

When Hager took the stand, he presented a different version of events than Carriger or Spencer had testified to previously.

While Spencer testified that he, Hager and Yelloweagle at one point were all punching Watkins and Carriger testified that all 3 were kicking him, Hager accepted sole responsibility for the assault.

"I'm the only person that ever had touched him (Watkins)," he said.

Hager appeared in court wearing a gray prison uniform as he is serving a 20-year sentence for pleading guilty to 2nd degree murder in Watkins' death.

When asked if Yelloweagle later hit or kick Watkins, Hager said, "No, he didn't touch him."

Furthermore, Hager testified that he only hit Watkins twice and only after "Jon starting saying he couldn't be knocked out."

"I said 'I bet I can knock you out,' and he said after he finished his beer I could try," Hager said.  "So he finished his beer and I took a swing at him, but just kind of grazed his head.  I then took a hit at him again at his chin and knocked him out.  He falls face down in the back right corner of the pickup."

Hager testified that Watkins remained unconscious for several minutes afterward, even as he drove the group to a pond near his mom's house.  

Hager said the group was at the pond for "probably 15 to 20 minutes.  After that we ran out of chasers so we went to my mom's house, me and Shawn drove to my mom's house to get more chasers and Jon was still laying in the back."

While at his mom's house, Hager said his mother drove up and he joked with her about knocking out Watkins.

"I thought I'd mess with her and asked if she wanted to see a dead body in the back of the pickup," he said.  "Jon was still in the back of the pickup but he wasn't dead.  He actually woke up shortly after that."

After replenishing their alcohol, Hager said he, Spencer and Watkins all returned to the pond where Yelloweagle, Bozarth and Carriger had stayed.

"We were hanging out there for a minute, drinking and stuff and then Jon's girlfriend starts texting him wanting him to come back to Woodward.  I don't know if he was supposed to pick her up or he had to be back by a certain time or what, but he told me to drive back to town," Hager said.

However, before leaving, Hager said that he and Watkins made up.

"I asked him 'you mad at me?' and he said 'no, just go back to town,'" Hager said.

But instead of taking the road back to town, he said he began "ramping fields, cattle guards and taking out fences."  At one point he said, "I ramped so high that we did a nosedive on the way back down, so we were about 5 to 6 feet off the ground."

He said he was driving around like that for 10 to 15 minutes before the truck broke down causing him to stop.

"I got out to see what was wrong with the truck to see if I could fix it," he said.  "And I could smell iron or whatever it is that blood smells like.  I smelled a lot of blood."

He then went around to the back of the pickup where he said Watkins was "laying there dead."

"There was so much blood that when I opened the tailgate it began to run off onto the grass," Hager said.

He then testified to jumping into the back of the pickup to check on Watkins and how the girls attempted to resuscitate him with CPR.

When they couldn't revive Watkins or repair the truck, he said the rest of the group got a ride back to Woodward.

After returning to a friend's house, Hager said that he "was pacing the floor and thinking what should I do."  He testified that as he was pacing he began "panicking and crying.  I didn't know what to do."

But he eventually decided to go to the Sheriff's Office and asked Spencer and Carriger to go along as well so they could report Watkins' death.

However, like Carriger and Spencer, Hager testified that his initial statement to sheriff's officials was not the same as to what he testified to in court.

But he claimed to be telling the truth in court and that he felt responsible and guilty for Watkins' death.

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