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Winston Watson

Winston Watson, 25, sits alongside his lawyer in the Coconino County Superior Court moments before his hearing before Judge Ted Reed.

Winston Watson, 25, has been charged with first-degree murder for the killing of 25-year-old Ethan Watson in 2017, with the trial date being set for November at a recent pretrial conference.

Ethan’s girlfriend described Winston and Ethan to police as cousin-brothers, and other sources close to the family detailed the victim and suspect’s strained relationship.

A grand jury charged Winston Watson, 25, with first-degree murder and shoplifting over a year ago in January 2018. The shoplifting charge stems from what police believe to be the knife used in the attack, allegedly stolen from Tractor Supply Co., and is being charged as a misdemeanor.

Being found guilty of first-degree murder is a felony that can be punishable by death or life in prison.

According to court minute entries, Winston entered into settlement conferences with the state late last year. The court minutes show that the state did not accept any plea from the suspect.

The case was originally under former Judge Jacqueline Hatch’s jurisdiction, but after her retirement the case has been handed to the new judge of Division 1, Judge Ted Reed.

The Coconino County Attorney’s Office did not respond to attempts for comment.

Student pick-up zone

On Nov. 2, 2017, witnesses say Ethan parked his girlfriend’s silver Malibu in the student pick-up zone of Killip Elementary School. Ethan was waiting for his niece to get out of school, his girlfriend told police.

Later, witnesses saw a man approach the vehicle and begin speaking to Ethan.

“Hey man, leave me alone. I’m not doing anything,” Ethan said to the man, a witness overheard at the scene.

Witnesses told the police the suspect opened the driver door and punched Ethan in the face. Then the suspect made “three stabbing motions” and ran, a witness reported. Ethan got out of his car, bleeding.

“He stabbed me. He stabbed me,” Ethan said, a witness told police.

Doctors later declared Ethan deceased due to multiple stab wounds. One of the wounds hit his heart, an officer reported.

At the scene, Ethan's girlfriend told a witness that Ethan dreamed he was going to die that day. She later repeated the statement to police.

The alleyway

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One witness told officers he saw a man in a black hoodie and pants with a white hat run from the scene. The suspect's last known position was on North Main Street.

Nearby, an officer reported spotting Winston walking away from the school. He was sighted in an alleyway between North Main Street and North Rose Street, near the subject's last known location.

The officer reported seeing Winston discarding dark clothing into a bush in an alleyway three blocks away from the school. The clothing was taken for testing.

The officer alleged in his report that he found Watson’s direction of travel, location and actions suspicious. Winston's clothing at the time matched witnesses' description at the scene.

The officer reported that they did not see any blood on Winston, but found him covered in sweat while talking with him in the alleyway.

Winston initially attempted to give the officer wrong identifying information, according to police reports. He would later tell police that he did this to avoid them identifying a warrant for his arrest. Police reports suggest that the warrant was related to a probation violation.

Once he gave his true information to officers, Winston was taken into custody for the warrant while they pursued evidence in the case.

Now named a suspect, Winston's case is currently set for Nov. 5.

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Scott Buffon can be reached at sbuffon@azdailysun.com, on Twitter @scottbuffon or by phone at (928) 556-2250.

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Senior Reporter - Cops, Environment

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