DAYTONA BEACH — A registered sex offender was convicted of battery, sexual battery and kidnapping on Thursday after he kidnapped a woman working as a prostitute in Daytona Beach and repeatedly raped her, choked her with a belt and left her for dead in some woods in Flagler County.
The jury of six men deliberated for 4½ hours before returning the guilty verdicts against Obtravies Watkins, 34, who had been charged with two counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon or force and kidnapping. But the jury convicted him of the lesser crime of battery on the sexual battery charge which involved oral sex while convicting him as charged on the sex battery involving intercourse.
After the jury left the courtroom at the S. James Foxman Justice Center, Watkins' defense attorney, Matt Metz, called the verdict inconsistent and made a motion asking the judge to acquit Watkins.
"We believe that the evidence shows that those two charges were intertwined such that the jury should either believe all or none and we ask the court to set aside the verdict and find the defendant not guilty," Metz said.
Assistant State Attorney Ashley Terwilleger responded that the "charges were separate and distinct," and that the jury took that into account in reaching its decision.
Circuit Judge Leah Case denied Metz's motion saying their was evidence to justify the different verdicts.
Case set sentencing for March 23. Watkins, who has six prior felony convictions, faces up to a year in the county jail on the battery and up to life in prison each on the sexual battery and kidnapping counts.
Watkins' legal problems extend beyond Volusia to Flagler County where he dumped the woman. He is charged in Flagler County with attempted second-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.
Watkins did not appear to show any emotion when the verdicts were announced. A bailiff put handcuffs on him before he was led out of the courtroom.
The situation began when Watkins picked up the 25-year-old woman as she worked as a prostitute around midnight on Nov. 27 walking along South Ridgewood Avenue. She testified Watkins made a U-turn and picked her up at Fremont Avenue in his cockroach-infested car.
He drove her to the post office on Bill France Boulevard where he injected himself with a drug and then the woman performed consensual oral sex on him while he wore a condom. They then drove to James Ormond Tomb Park on Old Dixie Highway where again she performed consensual oral sex on him as he wore a condom.
When Watkins asked for sex again, the woman refused because she did not have anymore condoms. That's when the attacks began. Watkins punched her in the face and raped her throughout the night.
Watkins finally drove her to a field off of Old Kings Road near Pecos Drive in Flagler County where he choked her with the belt and left her naked in the woods. After he left, the woman awoke, got out of the woods and yelled at passing cars. A Flagler Beach couple as well as other motorists stopped to help and call police.
Metz said during his closing argument that the woman had falsely accused Watkins because she was angry that he had not paid her the agreed price for sex after spending the night with him. The money at issue is in dispute but has been variously reported as $70 or about $100.
Metz also told jurors that the choking was consensual. He also pointed out what he called inconsistencies in the woman’s story. He said that while the woman said she bled profusely when she was punched in the face by the 250-pound Watkins, police did not find blood in the car.
Metz said the woman spent eight hours with Watkins and she suffered all her injuries in a short fight at the end of that time when she realized Watkins did not have enough money to pay her. Then she lied to police to get revenge, her attorney said. She had at first not admitted to police that she had been working as a prostitute, Metz told the jury. But the woman insisted during the trial that she told police that from the start.
Terwilleger, who is prosecuting the case along with Sarah Thomas, held up pictures of the woman’s bruised body. Terwilleger told jurors that the woman spent days in the hospital and endured hours of invasive examinations of her body as investigators collected evidence. She asked jurors if it made sense that she would go through all that for revenge.
And Terwilleger focused on the picture of the dark band around the woman’s neck and the hemorrhaging in her eyes, which were consistent with choking.
“That’s not rough sex that somebody is asking for or consenting to,” Terwilleger said. “This is sexual battery that landed this woman in the hospital for five days.”
Terwilleger disputed Watkins’ claims about the marks on the woman’s neck.
“What does make sense is that this was an eight-hour nightmare,” Terwilleger said. “One that started off consensually. She was upfront with you about that. And it turned into her being left in the woods naked, unable to speak, unable to move, shivering cold, having to walk and crawl her way to a roadway completely naked.