Relatives of Slain Utah Tourist to Testify Against Alleged Subway Attackers
NEW YORK (AP) _ Relatives of a Utah tourist stabbed to death on a subway platform while trying to protect his family will testify against young gang members charged with his murder.
Brian Watkins and his family came to New York every year from Provo to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament. His relatives plan to tell of being attacked by eight men the night of Sept. 2, 1990, in the heart of Manhattan’s theater district.
Eight defendants are being tried in groups of four. A jury has been selected for the first group, all 19, and opening statements were scheduled for Monday.
The Watkins family were on their way to dinner in Greenwich Village when they were jumped. When one of the robbers slashed the rear pants pocket and buttock of Watkins’ father, Sherman, and ripped away $200, his mother, Karen, tried to stop the mugging. She was kneed in the face and punched to the floor.
Watkins, 22, went to defend his mother and was stabbed. After the robbers ran off, a wounded Brian chased two of the attackers up a flight of stairs before he collapsed.
Michelle Watkins, Brian’s sister-in-law, ran to two men and asked them for help. To her horror, she found that one was in on the robbery. He grabbed her to keep her from getting help.
She is expected to testify that she was the first to see members of the gang skulking behind a staircase on the subway platform, then running toward her family just before the robbery.
On trial Monday are Pascal Carpenter, Johnny Hincapie, Emiliano Fernandez and Ricardo Nova, all from Queens. They told police they went hunting for victims so they could get money to go to Roseland, a dance hall, but that murder was never part of their plan.
All face life prison terms.
Yull Gary Morales, the alleged stabber, told prosecutors and police that Brian Watkins ″accidentally fell on my knife.″ Assistant District Attorney Thomas Schiels said some of the defendants told him Morales bragged about killing Watkins.
Morales, 19, is in the second group of four to be tried.
Seven of the eight defendants gave police written and videotaped statements in which they admitted roles in the attack. One gave police oral statements but refused to be recorded.
Defense attorneys say they believe Schiels hopes to win convictions against the first group, then apply pressure for testimony against Morales in return for lighter sentences.
The Watkins family has filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city.