Houston Attorneys Argue Case of Alleged False Imprisonment | News
A Warner Robins man has spent more than three weeks in jail, even though police charged his accuser with falsely reporting a crime.
That has prosecutors and a public defense attorney exchanging words.
Angie Coggins, Chief Assistant in the Houston Public Defender's office, says in her 22 years of work, the case of Nathaniel Watkins stood out.
She said, "It's a matter of what's right."
Nathaniel Watkins has been convicted on past robbery and drug charges, according the Georgia Department of Corrections' website.
Coggins said, "He's a convicted felon, but hasn't committed a crime. He shouldn't be sitting in our jail."
He's there two weeks after his accuser, his ex-wife Danielle Watkins, twice testified that she lied to police, accusing her ex of stalking, threats and burglary.
Coggin said, "My concern with a situation like this, where the District Attorney's office is aware, that their alleged victim has testified twice under oath, that she lied to police. That what she said happened, truly didn't happen."
Wednesday police arrested and charged Danielle Watkins with false report of a crime. She got out on bond.
Nathaniel Watkins is still in jail.
Erikka Williams, Chief Assistant in the District Attorneys office, says he could get out with no bond, if his sister comes to get him and keeps him in her custody.
Williams said, "Mr. Watkins does have an O.R. bond (Own Recognizance), which means he could get out of jail if he wanted to. I don't know why he's still in jail."
Coggins responded to that statement by saying, "His sister is unwilling to come get him, because it's her position that the charges should be dismissed."
Watkins' sister, Mary Simon, said by that she will not come get her brother until all of the charges are dropped. Simon said, "I'm not getting him out, because there should be no conditions on the bond. He should be a free man."
Simon said there, "What is there left to investigate when the key witness told the same story, that she was lying, twice?"
Williams says it's not that simple. She said, "Sometimes that takes additional investigation. The DA's office is not going to rush out and do things at the rate of speed the defense wants them to do it, because it just doesn't work that way. She went on to say, "We work the citizens of this county, not for them."
Coggins said Nathaniel Watkins' incarceration is costing taxpayers $65 each day, for a total of about $1,560 so far.
Both attorney's agree in cases of alleged domestic violence, it's common for alleged victims to change their story.
The prosecutor, Erikka Williams, says when that happens they may rely on witnesses to substantiate charges.
The defense said that's a valid point, but not in this case, where they say Danielle Watkins swore under oath that the story was a "total fabrication."
Coggins said the case is set to go before a grand jury on Tuesday.