LOGAN — After nearly nine hours of deliberation, a jury Friday night found 51-year-old Michael Watts guilty of three charges of forcible sodomy, all first-degree felonies. The North Logan man dropped his head into his hands as First District Court Judge Kevin Allen read the ruling from the eight jurors.
The verdict was reached after five days of testimony that included the victim describing how Watts molested him on multiple occasions and later coerced him to have oral sex. The abuse reportedly started at a relative’s home near Idaho Falls and continued at the victim’s home in Smithfield.
State attorney Spencer Walsh said he was pleased with the jury’s verdict and the length of time they deliberated, considering the facts of the case.
“It sends a good message to our community that adults how entice children into sexual relationships will be punished,” said Walsh. “It’s inappropriate and adults should be protecting our youth and not looking for ways to manipulate and take advantage of them.”
Judge Allen ordered Watts be taken into custody and booked into the Cache County Jail. Family and friends who were in the courtroom were briefly allowed to hug and say goodbye to him, before he was escorted out of the courtroom by bailiffs.
Watts was originally arrested in September 2010 after the victim’s mother found texts between the victim and a friend, describing how Watts sexually abused him.
During closing statements Friday morning, defense attorney Scott Williams argued police failed to properly investigate the case. He highlighted that several key pieces of evidence were missing, including 187 text messages between Watts and the victim and an interview between the victim and his mother.
Walsh said it wasn’t easy for the victim to come forward and share his account of what took place.
“I think they saw that he had no motive to lie and that he was a credible witness,” said Walsh. “I think that coupled with a lot of the evidence in the case where the defendant was making incriminating statements which corroborated the victim. I would assume that is what swayed the jury to find the defendant guilty.”
Judge Allen postponed setting a sentencing date. Watts was found guilty on three of the five charges and could face five-years to life in prison.
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