A podcast is digging into a 16-year-old Floyd County murder case, hoping to prove Joey Watkins was wrongfully convicted of Isaac Dawkins’ murder.
Dawkins, 20, was shot and killed while driving on U.S. 27 on Jan. 11, 2000, near Georgia Highlands College.
Watkins was 20 when he was convicted of murder, stalking and a weapons charge in July 2001, following a year-long police investigation.
He is currently serving a life sentence in Walker State Prison.
Susan Simpson, a co-producer of the “Undisclosed” podcast, said her team was approached by the Georgia Innocence Project, representing Watkins, to investigate his case.
The podcast focuses on criminal justice issues, particularly wrongful convictions, she continued.
The attorneys of the podcast try to tell the story, review the evidence and talk to witnesses, she added.
They also try to find new witnesses to these old cases and dig up new evidence to help the people they believe have been wrongfully convicted, Simpson said.
During the trial, prosecutors said Watkins was harassing Dawkins for dating one of his ex-girlfriends, with one witness saying Dawkins hid out at her house one night after Watkins chased him and shot at him.
However, defense attorneys and family members said Watkins was nowhere near the scene of the murder at the time of the shooting.
Co-defendant Mark Free was acquitted in early 2002. A jury found him not guilty of murder, aggravated assault, stalking and weapons charges.
Floyd County Superior Court Judge Tami Colston, who was the district attorney at the time of the trial, declined to comment.
Theoretically, the entire goal of the series is to get a new trial for the convicted, Simpson said.
However, Simpson said she and her co-producers don’t begin an investigation with the idea someone is innocent. Instead, they review the evidence before making a determination that a person was wrongfully convicted.
“It’s very clear Joey is innocent (to me),” Simpson said.
From the initial online research, it appeared that Watkins was a terrible person, Simpson said.
After interviewing him and reviewing the case, Simpson said it shed a different light on him.
There was never any physical evidence or a recovered gun pointing to Watkins’ involvement in Dawkins’ murder, she continued.
Additionally, she said that his co-defendant, Free, was acquitted.
The prosecution only used secondhand-statements and jailhouse snitches as their evidence, she concluded.
However, Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson has defended Watkins’ conviction in front of the state’s highest court.
“That case has been unanimously confirmed by the Georgia Supreme Court,” she said.
In Watkins v. The State, the court ruled on May 19, 2003, that it found no error in the conviction, affirming the denial of Watkins’ new trial motion.
“This is very upsetting to the family of Isaac Dawkins, the victim,” Patterson said of the podcast.
Episodes on Watkins’ case are released on Mondays and Thursdays, with actor Jon Cryer hosting the Thursday shows, Simpson said.