The man who was sentenced in 2001 to life in prison for killing Isaac Dawkins was tossed into jail Wednesday by a Superior Court judge when he refused to answer questions by prosecutors in the murder trial of his friend and alleged conspirator.
A jury of 11 women and three men began hearing evidence around 1:30 p.m. in the trial of Mark Free, 26, charged with murder, aggravated assault, stalking and weapons violations from the 2000 shooting death of 20-year-old Isaac Dawkins, who lived at 1038 Rosedale Road.
In July a jury convicted Free’s friend, Joey Watkins, who refused to answer a prosecutor’s questions Wednesday.
Watkins was sentenced to life plus five years for the crime that went unsolved for almost a year.
Watkins, 21, was granted immunity by prosecutors in
exchange for his testimony in the trial of his co-defendant.
His sentence would not be affected, Judge Walter J. Matthews told Watkins, adding whatever he said at the trial could not be used against him in his case, which is currently on appeal.
Because of his immunity, the judge told Watkins, he could not refuse to answer questions that might incriminate him.
But Watkins, who appeared in court wearing dress clothes, repeatedly refused to answer questions, citing instructions from his attorneys.
After several attempts were made to draw an answer from Watkins, Judge Matthews dismissed him from court and sent him to a holding cell at Floyd County Jail, where he will remain until the end of the trial unless he testifies.
Watkins was brought to the jail this week from Phillips State Prison, where he is serving his life sentence.
Investigators believe Dawkins was shot by either Watkins or Free as he drove home from Floyd College the night of Jan. 11, 2000.
The same witnesses from Watkins’ trial were recalled Wednesday to tell the same stories again about how Dawkins’ truck went off the road and into a pine thicket.
During Watkins’ trial prosecutors described Watkins as a man obsessed with Dawkins because he briefly dated Watkins’ former girlfriend.
That obsession grew into stalking and harassment and eventually the death of Dawkins, they said.
No evidence during the first day of testimony linked Free to the crime except a statement from his former girlfriend, who said Watkins and Free were close friends.
Chief assistant prosecutor Fred Simpson asked Dawkins’ best friend, Jay Barnett, to described instances where Watkins bullied and threatened Dawkins. When defense attorney William O’Dell asked if Free was ever present during those occasions Barnett said no.
The murder trial is to resume this morning in Floyd Superior Court