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Thursday, 16 October 2008

Kevin Watts was set for lethal injection Thursday evening for the execution-style slayings of three people during a robbery at a Korean restaurant

23:47 |

Convicted killer Kevin Watts blames the lure of quick money to support his life with gangs on the streets of San Antonio for his demise and a date Thursday with the Texas executioner."Fast money is the eyecatcher so we do things to get ourself situated," Watts, 27, said in a recent interview from a small cage in the visiting area of death row. "If you make this choice, you've got to deal with it."
Watts was set for lethal injection Thursday evening for the execution-style slayings of three people during a robbery at a Korean restaurant in San Antonio more than six years ago. The wife of one of the shooting victims also was abducted and raped.
"Some innocent people lost their lives in my case and that was a crappy price for them to pay because I didn't deserve to play God," he said.His even-tempered acknowledgment from prison was a far cry from his outburst in a San Antonio courtroom earlier this year when he ripped into a judge setting his execution date with an obscenity-laden tirade against what he said was a racist criminal justice system."I don't put my trust in no jury, no judge," Watts explained from death row. "They have faults, make mistakes, just like we do. And sometimes they don't have the heart to admit (it)."I might have screwed myself, but I never had a chance to speak for myself, how I was railroaded, how I had an inadequate attorney, how this is not about justice."Watts' lawyer, John Economidy, said Watts' demeanor in court "is exactly how I've had to deal with him in every letter and every face-to-face meeting.""You just have to sit there and be as professional as you can and do your best professional job," Economidy said.Watts' appeals were exhausted and the lawyer said no last-minute appeals were anticipated.Watts would be the second condemned Texas prisoner executed this week, bringing the state's execution total this year to 11. Another 10 inmates are set to die over the next five weeks in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.Watts, carrying a Tec-22 automatic pistol and after a night of drinking and drugs, barged into the Sam Won Gardens restaurant the morning of March 1, 2002, and demanded money. He ordered manager Hak Po Kim, 30, and cooks Yan Tzu Banks, 52, and Sun Chae Shook, 59, to kneel on the kitchen floor, face against a wall, then shot each of them in the head.He forced Kim's wife of two months to retrieve the wallet and keys from her dying husband, grabbed about $100 from a cash register, then drove off with her in Kim's SUV.The truck was spotted at a nearby apartment complex parking lot and police arrested Watts about three hours after the shootings as he tried to flee by ramming it into two patrol cars.
"He had the murder weapon literally tied around his neck," Bill Pennington, the Bexar County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Watts, recalled this week. "We had video of him, the gun being taken from around his neck."
Kim's wife testified against Watts at his trial. Jurors convicted him after 30 minutes of deliberations.Watts was from San Jose, California. He said when he was about 14 his mother tried to get him away from gangs there and moved him to San Antonio to live with an aunt."I came to Texas and I guess you could say I picked up where I left off with the gangs," he said. "I wish I could turn back the hands of time, but that's what I was into at that time."Watts' record included misdemeanor convictions for evading arrest, criminal mischief, trespassing, marijuana possession and driving while intoxicated. He also had a weapons case against him as a 16-year-old.At his trial, defense lawyers didn't deny Watts was responsible for the slayings but tried to show he didn't intend to kill the victims and that he was high on drugs.
On Tuesday, Joseph Ries, 29, is the first of two prisoners set to die next week. He was convicted of breaking into a rural home in Hopkins County in northeast Texas and fatally shooting and taking the car of Robert Ratliff, 64, who was asleep.

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