The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.), Andrew Dys column
|By Andrew Dys, The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
We will pay for
Watts, 26, has never held a job, never done anything except steal and maim people -- and then blame everybody else.
Police and prosecutors have said if Watts had a larger gun than the stolen .22-caliber pistol he shot four people with, he would have been a serial killer.
Then Watts shot her in the head when she went into a payday lender business on
Lord, six years later at 48, can barely eat and pay rent and utilities on her
"It is a struggle every day to try and live," Lord said. "I was never this way. I didn't do this. It was done to me. He gets treated like royalty. Look how I got treated."
And now, Lord's future rests with the state
Watts gets money for stamps to mail in his appeals. Lord gets nothing except food stamps. Or she did, until cuts in the federal program went into effect last year cut her off from those measly dollars, too.
Watts is serving nine life sentences for a string of crimes that terrorized
That came just days after he had shot two people at a
After Watts shot Lord in the head and back, she was rushed to a hospital, paralyzed.
A few days later, after matching DNA from that robbery scene to Watts' from a state criminal database -- he had been in juvenile detention until just weeks before he started robbing and shooting --
At that moment, Lord was hooked up to a machine that breathed for her. She was in a coma -- and would be for months.
Watts confessed, saying he had planned to rob and shoot until police stopped him or killed him. Here is what he said about shooting
"I got behind her and was going to threaten her and get the clerk to give me the money. I must have cocked the hammer beforehand, and it went off. I saw her hair on fire as she fell to the ground. I turned and shot her as she lay on the ground. I looked at the clerk behind the counter, and then I left."
Watts was convicted at trial of one of the armed robberies, then later pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the rest of his crimes. Lord -- wearing a helmet that kept her skull in place so her brain wouldn't leak out -- had to be wheeled into court, her wheelchair pushed by another of Watts' victims, former
Once in prison, Watts immediately became a most prolific writer of jailhouse appeals. He has filed and lost lawsuits claiming his first lawyer botched his case -- despite overwhelming evidence against him, his own confession and an alibi that was shown to have been a concoction of lies. He claimed
Prison records show Watts has been caught three times with drugs, most recently in September. He has lost his canteen privileges and phone privileges -- but not his right to file lawsuits -- for three years because of his possession of contraband. Before Christmas, Watts filed yet another lawsuit alleging ineffective counsel from his court-appointed lawyer when he pleaded guilty. In prison, Watts has access to computers, pens and paper. Every time he asks, he gets another taxpayer-funded lawyer. He has had almost a dozen of those lawyers so far.
Lord went through years of therapy, learning again how to walk and talk, how to feed and bathe herself. Her arm is limp, her body ruined. She can't work. She gets no free lawyers. She gets nothing but the small disability payments that keep her from starving in a tiny apartment in her hometown of
In 2009, a lawyer filed a lawsuit on Lord's behalf against the business that she was in when she was shot and maimed for life. The lawsuit claimed negligence that cost Lord her health and future. The lawsuit alleged that the business should have had a security guard and other measures in place.
The big insurance company for the business balked at paying Lord anything because of an assault and battery crime exclusion in the business' liability policy. The insurance giant got the case dismissed.
That lawsuit was later dismissed by a judge in what is called a summary judgment, before there was ever a trial. The judge ruled that under Lord's argument, every business in
But the case has churned through apppeals, and the state
Lord could sue Watts, but he has nothing. In fact Lord, as a taxpayer, is helping pay for Watts' lawyers who are trying to overturn his convictions.
"It doesn't seem right, what happened to my mother," said
On Friday, it will have been six years since
"I always tried to be a good person, I am a good person," Lord said. "I didn't do anything to anybody. I'm the victim."
(c)2014 The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.)
Visit The Herald (Rock Hill, S.C.) at www.heraldonline.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services