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Winston Watson

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

After pleading guilty, Winston Watson, 25, has been sent to jail on Tuesday for the death of 25-year-old Ethan Watson after he was killed on a school day in front of Killip Elementary in November 2017.

Winston will stay behind bars for 44 years stemming from three charges from when he stabbed and killed Ethan with a shoplifted knife, and then repeatedly punched a detention facility officer in the face while he was being detained on homicide charges. Winston can apply for parole after serving 41 years of his sentence.

Prosecutors and Winston's lawyer Roberta McVickers reached a plea deal in the case soon before his jury trial was scheduled to begin.

Winston made a point to accept responsibility in front of his and the victim's family.

"I would like to apologize to the victim, to Jessica (Littleman) and to her family as well," Winston said. "I'd like to apologize to my family as well."

Prosecutor Michael Tunink asked for the maximum penalty, citing the children, families and teachers who were walking out of school when Ethan was stabbed.

"The defendant's stabbing of the victim happened at school dismissal and was witnessed by children, parents, teachers," Stanley said. "In preparation for this case we conducted interviews, and in addition to children being scared when recounting the incident, parents and teachers were scared. They were affected by what they saw that day."

On the day of the stabbing, Ethan was waiting for his niece to get out of school in the student pick-up zone outside of Killip. Witnesses reported seeing Winston walk up to Ethan in his car, and after Ethan told him to leave, Winston punched him in the face, opened the car door and made three stabbing motions.

“He stabbed me. He stabbed me,” Ethan said as he stepped out of the car, a witness told police.

Winston fled, but was later found on a nearby street and taken into custody.

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

Jessica Littleman, Ethan's former partner, appeared before Winston and the rest of the court at his sentencing hearing on Tuesday. She described how members of their family have been trying to heal, and are dealing with depression.

Littleman said their family was close, and they lost two members of their family that day.

"I would prefer him to go away for a long time, longer than for what he's getting, but we’ll have to let it be what it is," Littleman said.

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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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