Shooter says he fired at police homes to appear cool

Deliberations begin in attempted murder of police officer
September 26, 2013
David M. Watson, 24, was arrested for attempted murder in January. SOURCE FILE PHOTO

A 21-year-old man says he shot at a sheriff's deputy's home because he wanted to impress his friend.

Orrin Joudrey testified he and David Watson, 24, drove past the homes of three law enforcement officers in December 2012 and took turns shooting into them.

Joudrey said he and Watson were very close friends and had known one another nearly their whole lives.  "I called him my brother," Joudrey said.

Joudrey said the first shooting occurred Dec. 10, 2012.  He said he and Watson had driven to Salisbury, Md. with Joudrey's pistol-grip shotgun and rifle in the car.  "We were going to go buy something in Salisbury," Joudrey said.

"The shotgun normally stayed in the car," he testified.  "Truthfully, I think it was David's opinion to bring the rifle."

Joudrey said he and Watson were not able to buy what they went to Salisbury to acquire, and this enraged Watson, who, Joudrey said, had tattooed the numbers "187" on himself in Joudrey's presence years earlier.  "He indicated to me it was officer down," Joudrey said.  "It resonated with him."

Joudrey said Watson asked him if there was a sheriff's house on Parsonsburg Road.  "He said, 'Just drive by 'em.'"

Watson then got in the back seat of the car and loaded the shotgun with three rounds, Joudrey said.  Watson then rolled down the window of the driver-side back seat.  "With all honesty, I did not believe he was actually going to fire rounds at the house," Joudrey said.  "In my mind, I just thought it was a way of venting."

Joudrey said he slowed the car to about 30 miles per hour as they passed the house of a Maryland sheriff's deputy, whose marked police car was sitting out front.  "I hear a shot, then I hear another one, and I hear a third," Joudrey testified.  "I see a flash in my mirror."

After the shooting, Joudrey said, he was saying expletives.  "I was like, 'Holy...' You know?" he said.

Joudrey said Watson was elated.

On Dec. 27, 2012, Joudrey said, Watson noted another officer's house nearby.  "I knew it wasn't a joke," he said.

Joudrey said Watson got in the driver's seat and drove past a different Maryland sheriff's deputy's home on Parsonsburg Road.  "I proceeded to fire two rounds into the officer's house," Joudrey testified.

"I wanted to be cool in his eyes," Joudrey said.  "Some way of just trying to be, trying to be, trying to be like him, I guess."

The two men then drove to the Delaware state line and switched seats, so Joudrey was driving and Watson was holding the gun, Joudrey said.  "It was his turn," he said.

Joudrey said he and Watson had previously seen a police officer driving a Humvee, and he then drove to the house where it was parked outside, on Route 24 in Laurel.  "I didn't know his name or anything, but I do now," Joudrey testified.  "That's Officer Clifford Dempsey."

Dempsey, a Dewey Beach police sergeant, sat in the gallery during Joudrey's testimony.

From the back seat, Waston fired three rounds into Dempsey's home, Joudrey said.  Then the men drove to Watson's home, where Joudrey said he hid the weapon in a crawl space.

During his Sept. 26 testimony, Joudrey appeared nervous, often staring straight ahead and not moving as he spoke.  His pale cheeks turned a deep shade of pink shortly after his testimony began.

Watson is currently on trial for attempted first-degree murder, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, reckless endangering, conspiracy and other charges.

Both men were arrested Jan. 2, after Joudrey was pulled over for speeding and taken into custody for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Joudrey pleaded guilty in June to possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, reck­less endangering, driving under the influence and conspiracy. He was sentenced to 15 years for the crime in Delaware, and his case in Maryland is still pending.

Prosecutor Adam Gelof said an immunity agreement was included in Joudrey's sentence, which means his Sept. 26 testimony cannot be used against him in the Maryland case.

Gelof asked Joudrey what it was like in prison and if he had been labeled a "snitch."

"It's devastating," Joudrey said.  "There's a lot that goes with telling the truth," he said.  "Unless you're a sex offender, it's the worst."

Joudrey says he lied to police

Gelof said when Joudrey was first interviewed by police Jan. 2, he denied Watson's involvment in the shootings.  Later on Jan. 2, Joudrey stopped denying Watson's involvement, Gelof said, but he denied Watson fired the shots at Dempsey's home.

"I lied specifically about this Delaware incident," Joudrey said.  "I said that I had done it."

Joudrey said he was hoping to take some of the blame and punishment away from Watson.  "On the word of God, that's the truth," Joudrey testified.  "I lied initially and said I did it."

Watson's attorney, James Murray, said Joudrey has lied to police during several interviews after his arrest.  At one point, Joudrey said he and Watson had not fired at any of the houses, Murray said.  "You told them God's honest truth you had nothing to do with the Laurel shooting," Murray said.

Then, Joudrey told police the shootings were his idea, not Watson's, Murray said.

During a July 15 interview, after Joudrey had pleaded guilty, he told police the shootings were Watson's idea, Murray said.

Murray asked Joudrey why he stored the weapons in Watson's home after the shooting.

"The officers were so close to my house," Joudrey said.

Police victims testify

Three police officers testified Sept. 24 that shots were fired into their homes while marked police vehicles were parked outside.

In opening remarks, Gelof said Watson has a hatred of police. He noted Watson’s forearm tattoo that reads “187,” which Gelof said signifies the murder of a police officer.

In his opening statement, Murray said Joudrey is smart, cold and calculating, and would say anything to keep himself out of trouble.

Murray said there were undoubtedly shots fired at the three officers’ houses.  “The issue is who did it, and perhaps why,” Murray said.

Dempsey said he was asleep at his home on Route 24 in Laurel in the early morning hours of Dec. 27, 2012, when he was awakened by loud noises.  “It was just an extreme loud cracking, snapping sound,” he testified.  “I knew it wasn’t good.”

Dempsey said he grabbed a pistol and headed to the room where his sons - who were ages 9 and 4 at the time - were sleeping.  He said his 9-year-old son had climbed down from the top bunk of his bed.  “He was in tears, not knowing what just happened,” he said.  “I told him it was lightning.”

Dempsey said he told his son to get back in bed, and he went to search his 7-year-old daughter’s room.  His daughter was staying down the street that night, at the home of Dempsey’s brother-in-law.

Dempsey said he entered his daughter’s room with a pistol, wearing only underpants and a T-shirt.  “There was a cloud of what I thought at the time was smoke,” he said.  “I thought maybe there was some faulty wiring in the walls.”

Dempsey said he noticed curtains move that were covering a window in the bedroom.  “I opened up the curtain, and that’s when I noticed the bullet hole,” he said.

When he moved into another room to investigate, Dempsey said, he saw a bullet sitting on the brown carpet of a common room on the second floor.

Photographs taken by Delaware State Police Detective Keith Collins - who also testified - showed where a bullet entered the house through Dempsey’s daughter’s window, skimmed the drywall in her room and went through the ceiling.  Another bullet went through the wall of her room and into the common area, where it skimmed some books on a computer desk and landed on the floor.

A third bullet wedged itself into the foundation of Dempsey’s house, Collins said.

Both Maryland deputy sheriffs who testified their homes had also been shot at are residents of Parsonsburg, Md., which is about 10 miles from the Delaware state line.

Wicomico County, Md. Sheriff’s Deputy John Welch testified he pulled over Joudrey Jan. 2 for speeding and found two red shotgun shells in his vehicle.

Welch said a Delaware State Police officer performed a field sobriety test on Joudrey, and afterward arrested him for driving under the influence.

Superior Court Judge T. Henley Graves asked the jury - which is made up mostly of women - to set emotions aside and come to a decision based solely on the facts of the case.  Testimony is scheduled to continue.