Mistrial declared in homicide case
Victims’ families question judge’s fitness for duty
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — A mistrial has been declared in the trial of Dewayne Willie Watkins. He is accused of killing a Shreveport couple then burning their bodies in their car.
According to the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office, the mistrial was declared after it was learned that one of the prosecutors has contracted COVID-19, and a key witness was also symptomatic. No recess was possible due to witness and juror availabilities.
The new trial date is set for Aug. 22.
Afterward, the families of homicide victims Kelly and Heather Jose issued a statement via email from Heather Jose’s sister, Nicole King. They also held a news conference at 4 p.m.
Their statement reads:
“Nearly four years ago, our family was rocked by the murder of Heather and Kelly Jose. They were abducted, robbed, murdered, and their bodies defaced.
“In the over three and a half years since that violent crime, our family has yet to see justice for Heather and Kelly. Their alleged killer has not been brought to justice for his heinous actions. His trial has seen delay after delay, and in turn justice has been delayed and delayed.
“Heather moved to the Shreveport area when she married her husband, Kelly Jose, even though all of her family was located in California. This week, nine family members traveled thousands of miles to Louisiana to ask for justice for Heather and Kelly.
“Kelly Jose was a veteran of the Air Force; Heather Jose was a small business owner; both were beloved members of their local church and believed deeply in helping the people of their community.
“Today, at the eleventh hour, Judge John Mosley Jr. again delayed justice for our family. An assistant district attorney tested positive for COVID-19, and he rescheduled the trial for August.
“Despite being offered several reasonable accommodations, including daily testing, streaming the trial, pushing off until next week, and even replacing the ADA, Judge Mosley refused to accept them. Even against the express wishes of the DA and the defense attorneys, Judge Mosley refused.
“We understand that Judge Mosley has various health issues which put him at greater risk of COVID-19, however, he is choosing to not follow CDC guidelines, Louisiana state guidelines, and the reasonable accommodations offered to him. We respect his need to protect his health, but Judge John Mosley Jr. is putting himself before his duty to justice in Louisiana.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been disrupting our lives for over two years, and while we understand that reasonable restrictions should be made, reasonable mitigation plans should also be prepared in case important personnel fall ill with COVID. Despite being presented with several alternatives, Judge Mosley rejected these plans.
“If this is how he is running his courtroom, then we call into question Judge Mosley’s fitness for duty as a public official. His health is obviously impeding his ability to hear cases.
“We have waited nearly FOUR years for Heather and Kelly to receive justice. Four years of waiting for closure for their deaths. Four years of putting our lives on hold. Four years of delayed justice. We are devastated by this.
“If ‘justice delayed is justice denied,’ then Judge John Mosley Jr. has denied Heather and Kelly Jose justice.”
The Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty against Watkins, who faces two counts of second-degree murder.
The 34-year-old is accused of kidnapping, robbing then slaying 43-year-old Kelly Jose and 32-year-old Heather Jose on the night of Nov. 8, 2018.
Soon after, their bodies were found in a burned car in Shreveport’s Queensborough neighborhood.
Prosecutors allege that Watkins killed the Joses after the couple agreed to give him a ride home from Mall St. Vincent in Shreveport.
Watkins was arrested after a 5.5-hour standoff with law officers the next morning in the 2600 block of Penick Street. That’s blocks from where the burned car was found in the 3400 block of Penick.
Jury selection had been expected to wrap up by Wednesday with opening statements expected sometime before noon.
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