Parents of Son Slain on Subway Goes Before Grand Jury
NEW YORK (AP) _ The parents of a tourist from Utah who was stabbed to death in a subway mugging testified to a grand jury Wednesday before heading home for the funeral.
Sherwin and Karen Watkins looked tired and pained as they entered Manhattan Criminal Court shortly before noon to testify about how their son, Brian, was stabbed to death chasing youths who robbed his father.
The couple, escorted by detectives from the district attorney’s office, did not speak to reporters.
Mrs. Watkins left the courtroom about 90 minutes later and bought a newspaper to read while her husband testified. Reporters who tried to speak with her were blocked by a burly man who said, ″They don’t want to talk to the press.″
The family plans to hold a news conference Thursday afternoon after their return to Provo, Utah, according to David G. Hansen, the family’s Mormon bishop.
Funeral services for Brian Watkins were scheduled for Saturday in Provo.
On Sunday, the 22-year-old tennis buff, his parents, his brother, Todd, and Todd’s wife, Michelle, had been at the U.S. Open in Queens and were waiting for a train in a midtown subway station at around 10:20 p.m. when they were attacked.
The family was approached by a group of youths who sliced open Sherwin Watkins’ pants and took a money clip containing about $200 and some credit cards. One punched Mrs. Watkins in the face.
The brothers interceded and Brian was stabbed, but started to give chase before collapsing. He died 40 minutes later.
The youths robbed the Watkinses because they wanted money to go dancing at the nearby Roseland Ballroom, police said.
The grand jury was considering charges of second-degree murder and first- degree assault against eight youths, including Yull Garry Morales, 18, who police accuse of stabbing Watkins.
The eight, who pleaded not guilty at their arraignment, were ordered held without bail. A return court date was set for Friday, said Gerald McKelvey, a spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney.
Besides Morales, the suspects were identified by police as Anthony Anderson, Pascal E. Carpenter, Emiliano Fernandez, Ricardo Lopez, Johnny Hincapie and Ricardo Nova, all 18, and Luis Fernando Montero, 22.
A double-edged ″butterfly″ knife, believed to have been the murder weapon, was recovered.
The Queens youths belonged to a gang known as FTS - an abbreviation for an obscene phrase - which required would-be members to mug someone as an initiation rite, the New York Times reported.
Quoting former members of the gang, the Times said the gang liked to rob people ″for the hell of it″ and had two passions: graffiti and dancing.
A city police spokesman, Lt. Raymond O’Donnell, said however that the group was not known to the department’s Youth Gang Intelligence Unit. ″We never knew of them as being an organized group. They may have been involved in graffiti in Queens.″