Jury: Watson guilty of reckless endangering

Laurel man convicted of shooting at police homes
September 27, 2013
A Sussex County jury found David Watson guilty of shooting into the Laurel home of a Dewey Beach police officer. SOURCE FILE PHOTO

A man arrested and charged with shooting into the homes of three law enforcement officers was found guilty Sept. 27.

A jury of 12 Sussex County residents – 10 women and two men – deliberated for about three hours before declaring David Watson guilty of eight charges against him.  Watson, 24, was charged with attempted murder, but jurors instead found him guilty of the lesser offense of reckless endangering.

The jury found Watson guilty as charged for two additional counts of reckless endangering, three counts of possession of a firearm, one count of conspiracy and one count of criminal mischief.

Judge T. Henley Graves excused the jury after the verdict was issued. Watson – who was seated at the defense table – whispered to his attorney, James Murray, then shook his head and leaned back in his chair.

“Mr. Watson, I know you shook your head when the verdict came in,” Graves said.  “From this side of the bench, the evidence was overwhelming.”

Watson did not testify during his trial.  His co-defendant, Orrin Joudrey, took the stand Sept. 26, and said Watson instructed him to drive past a Maryland sheriff’s deputy’s home on Parsonsburg Road, Dec. 10, 2012, and Watson shot into the house.

Joudrey shot into another Maryland sheriff’s deputy’s home on Parsonsburg Road, Dec. 27, 2012, while Watson drove Joudrey’s parents’ Mercury Mariner, he testified.

Joudrey said he then took the driver’s seat and drove to the Laurel home of Dewey Beach Police Sgt. Cliff Dempsey, where Watson fired three shots into the house.  Dempsey and his two young sons were asleep in the home when the shooting occurred.

Joudrey pleaded guilty in June and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Graves said it would have taken more than one person to drive past a house and shoot into it with a bolt-action rifle.  “I’m satisfied these were drive-by shootings,” Graves said.  “You and your buddy did some bad things.”

Graves is scheduled to sentence Watson Friday, Nov. 22.

Cases against Watson and Joudrey are still pending in Maryland.  Neither Murray nor Deputy Attorney General Adam Gelof commented on the verdict.

Dempsey said he and his family are pleased with the coordinated effort made by the Maryland and Delaware criminal justice system.  "We are pleased with the verdict," he said.

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