Evidence, statements main topic of hearing for Boulevard murder case

All three suspects in the fatal shooting of 19-year-old Alijah Watts outside of Casey General’s Store in Hopkinsville appeared in Christian Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon, where discussion about statements and evidence was the main topic of a suppression hearing.

This hearing followed a recent one where the court heard evidence about various pieces of evidence, specifically concerning statements made by both the victim and one of the co-defendants, Christian McKeel, that the defense was looking to have suppressed and not have heard at trial. Tuesday, Judge John Atkins ruled that a dying declaration by Watts where he identifies the shooter would be admissible at trial.

With that ruling made, attention turned to concerns about trial preparation, where the defense contends there are things that they do not have access to and therefore cannot be fully prepared to go to trial on September 25. Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Bolen says she has often had to fully rebuild case files, including in this case, so a meeting with her office, all three defense lawyers and the Hopkinsville Police Department would be an appropriate next step to be sure everyone has what they need.

Ultimately, Judge Atkins continued proceedings to Thursday at 1 p.m. after ordering that every piece of evidence involved in this case be present in the courtroom.

At that time, the court will also take up a motion to suppress statements made by McKeel during a police interview, along with issues concerning on how the case will be tried with all three co-defendants at once.

Hopkinsville police allege McKeel drove then 17-year-old Weston and then 16-year-old Joshua to Casey’s with intent to commit a robbery. A detective testified that a struggle ensued during the attempted robbery and that’s when Watts was shot in the abdomen. He would die of his injuries.

Both Weston and Cotton are charged with murder, with Cotton additionally charged with first-degree robbery and theft by unlawful taking. McKeel is charged with complicity to murder.