Kevin Watson pleads not guilty in death of Samantha Dean

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Kevin Watson, the man charged with capital murder in the death of Samantha Dean has pleaded not guilty in the Bastrop District Court. His pre-trial hearing has been set for May 25.

Watson, 32, was moved from Harris County to Bastrop County Tuesday. He was originally booked into the Harris County Jail in April 2015 on unrelated drug charges.

At Wednesday’s arraignment, Watson was dressed in Bastrop County’s red and white striped jail garb but had on no handcuffs when two deputies walked him up to Judge Reva Townslee Corbett where he made his not guilty plea.

In the time leading up to trial, for the first time, Watson and alleged co-conspirator VonTrey Clark will be under the same roof, but held in separate areas of the jail. The two spent some of their high school years together in Austin and became fast friends, according to Watson’s mother, Denise Hail. Hail was not in court Wednesday.

Watson’s Houston-based attorney Tyrone Moncriffe spoke briefly to KXAN outside the courtroom, saying the difficulty of this murder for-hire case is “Up there… (These murder for-hire cases) they’re are all sort of complex.” To help with that and what prosecutors call a “voluminous” amount of discovery documents, the Judge allowed Moncriffe to hire a court-funded investigator.

But Moncriffe, whose website mentions he has regularly been chosen as a ‘super lawyer’ by colleagues tells KXAN he is ready for a tough trial. “As far as representing Mr. Watson, we are fighting. We are going to be fighting the case. We are doing an intensive investigation at this point and expect to fight the case all the way through trial.”

Judge Townslee Corbett told attorneys in open court she does not expect to get the case on the trial docket before the end of summer because other cases are filling her schedule.

Watson’s next appearance is May 25th. VonTrey Clark’s next pretrial hearing before Judge Carson Campbell is set for May 4th, the court docket shows.

Samantha Dean’s body was found on Feb. 4, 2015 at a Bastrop shopping center located at 118 Stephen F. Austin Blvd. The scene was made to look like a drug deal that ended badly, according to court records. Dean’s body was found with multiple gunshot wounds; an autopsy revealed she was seven months pregnant.

Former Austin police officer VonTrey Clark is also charged in the case.

Search warrants revealed Dean was in a relationship with 32-year-old Clark. Paperwork indicated the two had been seeing each other on and off for about seven years. Clark told investigators he was “the father of Dean’s unborn child.”

Authorities recovered Dean’s journal during a search of her South Austin home. In it, she wrote she feared for her life that Clark was “going to kill her.”

A friend, Aaron Williams, told detectives Watson told him that Clark was looking “to pay someone $5,000 to kill Dean and her baby due to Dean wanting Clark to pay child support for the baby,” according to the warrant. Williams went onto say Watson told him he and Freddie Smith killed Dean for Clark and that Clark had driven Dean to the location in Bastrop County, and the “murder had been set up to look like a drug deal,” continued the warrant.

On Sept. 3, 2015, Watson was officially charged with capital murder. A Bastrop County grand jury indicted Watson just a few hours after Clark pleaded not guilty to capital murder at his arraignment. Clark’s next court appearance will be in May.

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