The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly. This information; however, is subject to change and may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not be relied upon for statistical or legal purposes.
MCWATTERS, EUGENE (W/M)
19th Judicial Circuit, Martin County Case # 04-000961-CF-MA, 04-000959-CF-MA, 04-000957-CF-MA
Sentencing Judge: The Honorable Larry Schack
Attorney, Trial: Bob Watson – Private
Attorney, Direct Appeal: Jeffrey L. Anderson – Public Defender’s Office
Attorney, Collateral Appeals: TBA
Date of Offense: 05/31/04
Date of Sentence: 12/04/06
Circumstances of Offense:
Eugene McWatters was convicted of first-degree murder of and sexual battery upon Jackie Bradley, Christal Wiggins, and Carrieann Caughey in three separate cases. The three cases were consolidated after the State’s Williams Rule motion was granted.
On 03/28/04, Thomas Field spent the afternoon at the campsite where he lived drinking and talking with Jackie Bradley and several others. Eugene McWatters, who also lived at the campsite for several days or weeks at a time, joined them before dark. Several people in the group, including Field, witnessed McWatters offering his cousin’s house to Bradley as a place where she could bathe. Field and Terry McElroy saw McWatters and Bradley leave the campsite together.
Bradley’s body was found on 03/31/04 in a canal that connected two ponds, which was 100 feet away from McWatters’ cousin’s street. She was wearing a T-shirt and bra that were bunched up into her armpits, and other clothes belonging to her were found nearby. The medical examiner concluded that Bradley was killed by manual strangulation.
Joseph Herbert, Cyndi Lynn Kaman, Christal Wiggins, McWatters, and others were all at Donna Nicholson’s house on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in 2004. That night, between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, Herbert suggested that they all go to his hotel room. McWatters was not invited, so Wiggins stayed behind with him. Herbert saw Wiggins and McWatters walking to the Li’l Saints store when the rest of the group left. When the group returned from Herbert’s hotel room 45 minutes to an hour later, McWatters and Wiggins were not there.
Early Monday morning on Memorial Day weekend, Caughey was seen smoking crack cocaine with a man in his room at the Heritage Inn in Hobe Sound. Jerry Arthur Prevatt confirmed that he had used drugs with Caughey in his room at the Heritage between Sunday night and Monday morning. At approximately 2:45 or 3:00 a.m., he dropped Caughey off in the Li’l Saints parking lot. He saw McWatters approach her, and that was the last time he saw her.
On 06/03/04, a body was found in a wooded area near Lincoln Street in Port Salerno. The body was identified as Caughey’s. She was nude from the waist down, her shirt and bathing suit top were pushed up into the armpit area, and she was covered in dead vegetation and vines—similar to how Bradley’s body had been positioned. The medical examiner concluded that Caughey had died by manual strangulation, and her body had been decomposing for four days.
Another body was found on 06/07/04, which was identified as Wiggins’. Her shirt and bra were also pulled up towards her neck like the bodies of Caughey and Wiggins. The medical examiner also concluded that her death was due to asphyxia by manual strangulation, and she was most likely a victim of sexual battery or attempted sexual battery.
A detective from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office interviewed McWatters on 06/07/04 and 06/18/04, and he denied involvement in the murders of Bradley, Caughey, and Wiggins. On 06/23/04, the detective and other law enforcement officers arrested him on an unrelated charge. He was interviewed again about the murders, and McWatters then confessed to having killed all three women.
07/06/04 Indicted as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder (Jackie Bradley)
Count II: Sexual Battery
Count III: First-Degree Murder (Christal Wiggins)
Count IV: Sexual Battery
Count V: First-Degree Murder (Carrieann Caughey)
Count VI: Sexual Battery
09/28/06 Jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts of the indictment
10/04/06 Jury recommended death by a vote of 10-2 (Wiggins), 9-3 (Bradley), 10-2 (Caughey)
12/04/06 Sentenced as follows:
Count I: First-Degree Murder – Death (Jackie Bradley)
Count II: Sexual Battery – Life in Prison
Count III: First -Degree Murder – Death (Christal Wiggins)
Count IV: Sexual Battery – Life in Prison
Count V: First-Degree Murder – Death (Carrieann Caughey)
Count VI: Sexual Battery – Life in Prison
Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal
36 So.3d 613
01/10/07 Appeal filed
01/08/09 Oral Arguments held
03/18/10 FSC affirmed convictions and sentences
04/01/10 Motion for Rehearing filed
06/02/10 Motion denied
United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of Certiorari
131 S.Ct. 510
08/20/10 Petition filed
11/01/10 Petition denied
On 01/10/07, McWatters filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court citing the following issues: Motion to suppress; Collateral crime evidence; Expert opinions on circumstantial evidence; Premeditation; Sexual battery convictions; Disqualification of defense counsel and state attorney’s office; Admissibility of evidence; Cold, calculated, and premeditated aggravator; Cold, calculated, and premeditated aggravator jury instruction; Heinous, atrocious, and cruel aggravator; Murder committed while in commission of felony. On 03/18/10, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed his convictions and sentences. A motion for rehearing was filed on 04/01/10. The motion was denied on 06/02/10.
McWatters filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on 08/20/10. This petition was denied on 11/01/10.
Report Date: 06/03/10 EMJ
Approved: 06/03/10 RM
Updated: 02/07/11 EMJ