Grady murder trial

By on April 30, 2006

Jackson is host to the 9th Judicial District Court’s retrial of accused murderer Floyd Grady, 30. Grady allegedly beat and strangled Hudson contract nurse Tammy Watts, 39, to death in the early morning hours of April 15, 2004, at the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton, Wyoming.
“If convicted of either murder rap, jurors must then decide whether Grady should die by lethal injection or receive life imprisonment with or without parole.”
The original trial, in Lander, ended on Nov. 11, 2005, when an unsequestered jury deadlocked with two holdouts after 43 hours of deliberation. District Judge Norman Young pronounced a “mistrial without prejudice to the prosecution,” meaning the State could retry Grady. Young later granted a change of venue to Teton Count, a move likely to help Grady’s bid to at least avoid the death penalty. Throughout the proceedings, Grady looks a far cry from the “creepy little bastard” he once referred to himself as in a letter to Watts, as reported by the Jackson Hole Daily. Grady looks collegiate in a smart suit and owl-rimmed glasses, jotting down notes on a legal pad and occasionally scanning the faces of the jurors when anything particularly graphic is mentioned regarding the crime scene.

According to a May 2005 Gallup Poll, Republicans are more likely to favor capital punishment than Democrats – 79 to 61 percent – and Teton County is considered a stronghold for the Democratic Party in a predominantly Republican state.

Grady faces two counts of firstdegree murder – one for pre-meditation and the second for murder during the commission of a sexual assault – and one charge of attempted firstdegree sexual assault. If convicted of either murder rap, jurors must then decide whether Grady should die by lethal injection or receive life imprisonment with or without parole. The jury is being sequestered at Snow King Resort.

Should Grady be sentenced to death, only the governor has the power to stay an execution. Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal is a Democrat who supports capital punishment. Wyoming is one of only five states that reserve the right to use the gas chamber as a backup method of execution should lethal injection be proven unconstitutional. Two inmates are currently on death row in Rawlins.

In 1994, Grady raped a 16-year-old at knifepoint in Cheyenne. He was convicted of first-degree sexual assault in 1995, lost an appeal in 1996, and served seven years of a 10-30-year sentence in the state penitentiary in Rawlins. Since 2002 he has been incarcerated at the Honor Farm – a staterun transitional institution for male prisoners nearing the end of their sentences. His transfer there is the basis for a civil suit brought by the Watts family against the Wyoming Department of Corrections, the Wyoming State Penitentiary and the Wyoming Honor Farm.

According to the Riverton Ranger, Grady’s original trial was marred by allegations of an inappropriate romantic relationship between the lead investigator, Riverton Police Detective Sgt. Joe Davis, and State’s Deputy Prosecutor Marsha Bean. Both have since been dismissed from their respective positions but are likely to show up on defense lawyers’ list of witnesses should they choose to call any. Grady’s defense team was so confident that the State had bungled the job in Lander they rested without calling a single witness to the stand. Fremont County Attorney Ed Newell and Deputy County Attorney Bob Bundy are prosecuting for the State while Grady’s defense team remains Kerri Johnson and Rob Oldham, public defenders from Casper.

Grady’s lawyers have punished State’s early witnesses with relentless cross-examination, portraying the Riverton Police Department and Honor Farm security staff as bushleague, ill-prepared to handle a murder one investigation. They also accuse investigators of committing the cardinal sin of crime-solving: Trying to fit evidence to a suspect rather than the reverse. Counsel has also hinted at a consensual relationship between Watts and Grady and even called into question the integrity of the private laboratory that analyzed the DNA samples.

Moreover, defense attorneys for Grady never miss a chance to remind the jury that the crime took place in a criminal-rich environment. The 1,080- acre, minimum security facility housed 170 inmates on the day of the murder. Numerous Honor Farm detainees had felonious backgrounds and at least one allegedly threatened Watts on a previous occasion. Counsel’s repeated efforts to mention other inmates are usually quickly objected to by Newell as “out of scope,” an objection Judge Norman often sustains with increasing perturbation at Counsel’s attempts to finger a suspect not on trial.

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About Jake Nichols

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