Patrick Watkins returned to Clark Circuit Court Thursday as a murder suspect preparing for his second trial for his daughter Michaela’s death.
Three years ago, Watkins and his wife Joy Watkins were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison after Michaela died from a crushed chest and multiple injuries and burns. In April, the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned Patrick’s conviction on the grounds that he was never allowed to refute 17 incriminating statements made to police by Joy Watkins. The statements were played for jurors during the trial, but Patrick Watkins was not allowed to refute them.
Joy Watkins’ sentence and conviction were unchanged.
Clark Circuit Judge Jean Chenault Logue was prepared to schedule a trial immediately, but his attorney Laurel Clark asked for time to familiarize herself with the case and the evidence.
“I know we just brought this case back and you were not the attorney,” Logue said. Likewise, Logue was not the presiding judge when the Watkinses were tried in September 2008.
Instead, Logue scheduled a status conference on Dec. 8. She also reinstated his original $200,000 bond over objections from Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Heidi Engel.
The Watkinses were convicted following a four-day trial in Winchester in September 2008, a year and a half after Michaela died in their home. An autopsy determined that she had a total of 77 injuries, 35 of which were to her head. She also had bite marks on hear hears, broken ribs, a crushed chest and severe burns to the backs of both legs.
Throughout the trial, both Patrick and Joy, Michaela’s father and stepmother, denied assaulting her but said she was a child with behavioral problems and a history of abuse. They said Michaela burned herself in the bathtub the night before she died. Medical personnel disputed that, since the burn patterns were consistent with the child being placed in scalding water. There was no proof offered to show what caused her chest injuries.
Michaela died March 11, 2007, following a family trip to Red River Gorge, but the Watkinses gave different accounts of what happened during that trip and of Michaela’s behavior. Prosecutors believed that she died on the way home. Paramedics and police were called to their home later that night.
Contact Fred Petke at firstname.lastname@example.org.