Robbie Watson

Investigative Reporter

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Articles

Remembering Reverend Billy Graham

You don't have to be a Southern Baptist to appreciate the iconic Reverend Billy Graham, the man generations of people turned to in times of trouble. "Sometimes they call him "America's Evangelist" or "America's Pastor"…

District Attorney Responds to Upatoi Jury's Split Decision

The District Attorney reflecting on the Jury's split decision in the Upatoi Trial and responding to any critisism that they couldn't get a conviction on those first five counts, Alonza Whitaker tells First News anybody…

Burks Guilty of Murder of Caleb Short

For the first time in nearly three weeks of court proceedings Rufus Burks' calm demeanor appeared to crack as Burks sat nervously shaking as he awaited the Jury's verdict. The Jury had spent more time…

Upatoi Jury Deadlocked on Murder Charges

After the Jury reported here they were deadlocked on the most serious charges including Malice Murder, Judge Gil McBride issued an "Allen Charge" sometimes referred to as a "Dynamite Charge" and that is a polite…

Trial Shocker: Upatoi Jury split on Murder Charges

After three days of deliberations the drama has shifted from the courtroom to the jury room where the twelve men and women deliberating the fate of Rufus Burks clearly have a difference of opinion. Burks…

Upatoi Jury Asks What is "a Party to a Crime"

  Prosecutors alleged for the first time in closing arguments that Rufus Burks physically took part in the slayings but Burk's defense attorney Jennifer Curry told the jury there wasn't a shred of blood evidence…

Prosecutor: Upatoi Murders was no "One Man Show"

  Family members wept quietly as attorneys presented their closing arguments and two vastly different theories about what happened inside that Upatoi home and who was responsible. Assistant District Attorney Chris Williams asked the Jury…

Attorneys decide which Autopsy Photos Shown at Trial

  Defense attorney Jennifer Curry says evidence shows Rufus Burks, the lone defendant to stand trial for the triple slaying of the Short family never physically took part in the bludgeoning deaths of Gloria Short,…

Mystery Suspect Takes Stand in Triple Murder Trial

Prosecutors called a 4th suspect, Marcus Dermer who bailed at the last minute but had a real problem recalling the facts. Marcus Dermer was pressed for details on the witness stand about the triple homicide…

Caleb Short to Killer: "You better be Playing"

  The jury must determine to what extent Rufus Burks was involved in the crimes. His defense attorney Jennifer Curry has long maintained this was a one man job but those crime scene photos…

Woman filed Complaint about Predator Cop Weeks Ago

Eldrick Kennedy was fired from the Phenix City Police Department and charged with Rape 1st Degree after Investigators say he raped a woman who was handcuffed in custody. Kennedy detained the victim in response…

Suspect who Committed Triple Slaying Enters Guilty Plea

The goal was to find 12 fair minded jurors for the Upatoi Triple Murder trial but after hours of jury selection the prime suspect had another change of heart. Jervarceay Tapley, the man investigators believe…

Judge Rejects Alford Plea in Upatoi Triple Murder Trial

Three defendants, Rufus Burks, Jervarceay Tapley, and Raheam Gibson appeared poised and ready to enter a guilty plea just prior to jury selection. And according to court testimony the family was not fired up about…

Railroad Construction wreaks havoc in Chattahoochee Valley

  Everybody we interviewed for this report had some  choice words for Norfolk Southern who barged into the Chattahoochee Valley with a massive Railroad project creating a major ruckus. "Apparently it's their Railroad, they…

Local Veterans Square Off for At Large Council Seat

Candidates are coming out of the woodwork now offering themselves for public service in what promises to be a contentious election cycle on the home front. Retired Army Colonel John House said the City has…

Woman Killed at her Own Driveway in Fatal Crash

Police investigators have remained tight lipped about the incident but one thing they did share, they don't think weather was a factor in the deadly collision here on Steam Mill Road. 31 year old Claudia…

Patrol Units respond to nearly 300 Service Calls

The Governor declared a State of Emergency in 83 counties across the Peach State but Southerner's don't listen and those that didn't heed the warning paid a price. It wasn't your typical commute across town,…

EXCLUSIVE: Three Men Identified in Deadly Road Rage Incident

Employees at the Dollar General on Highway 165 hunkered down with customers locked inside after gunfire erupted around 7:30 last night. Retired Master Sergeant Lorenzo Freeman was heading home here to this quiet military community…

Elderly Defendants Appear for Murder Charges

  It was a bizarre scene here inside Recorder's court because it's rare to report on a murder suspect nearly 70 years old. Even more rare, another 88 year old murder suspect on the same…

88 Year Old Man Charged with Murder of Caretaker

67 Year Old Nancy Green was shot dead inside this home on Trussell Avenue after allegedly delivering a meal to James Byrd Wednesday afternoon. Police responding to a shooting discovered the victim and suspect inside. …

Locals Hunker Down for National Championship

Well it's not exactly business as usual here on the border where for today we can't be bothered with politics, crime waves or even this crazy weather. For locals, there is only one thing on…

Alleged Pawn Shop Gunman Appears in Court

  The alleged Pawn Shop gunman who shot and killed Joseph Johnson appeared for a preliminary hearing in Recorder's Court. 21 year old Marquiell Wilson was wheeled into the courtroom minus his leg, a direct…

Army Veteran Shot Dead during Pawn Shop Robbery

A retired Army Veteran was gunned down and his young colleague ambushed in broad daylight during an attempted armed robbery. Friends and patrons of the pawn shop are horrified at the scene here in South…

Vicky Carter Johnson Runs away with Special Election

Vicky Carter Johnson beats opponent 2-to-1 in Runoff. The results are in for the Phenix City Council District two race. Voters elected Vicky Carter Johnson with 429 votes to Baxley Oswalt's 263. That doesn't include…

Detective: Murder Victim Identified his own Killer

Detectives testify three teenagers are facing felony murder charges for the death of Javion Shorter. The trio arrested after Shorter was gunned down last month at the Ballard Way Apartments on Hunter Road. According to…

Vicky Carter Johnson shuts down Residency Rumors

Vicky Carter Johnson is disputing new rumors about where she resides. Just when you think you've heard it all about this special election for City Council in Phenix City after all of the allegations of…

Record Voter Turnout behind Upset Special in Alabama

Judge: Record voter turnout behind results. That upset special may have come as a surprise to the rest of the Country, even parts of Alabama but not here in Russell County where Democrats typically rule…

Heavy turnout for Senate Showdown in Russell County

A heavy turnout is predicted for this special election in Alabama. Poll workers from both parties report a brisk turnout here in Russell County. Who's ahead in the Senate Showdown depends on who you ask.…

Grinch steals Christmas from Abused Children

This suspect can best be described as a real life Grinch who stole the children's red chairs, their coolers for treats and even their Christmas tree. "Even paint when we painted the inside of the…

Police : No connection between Witness Testimony and Murders

Police say witness testimony is not necessarily a motive for murder. A disturbing common denominator has emerged after some of the most recent homicides where the victims were actually witnesses in other cases. Detectives tell…

Auburn Fans predict another "Curb Stomping" Saturday

  Auburn Fans are gearing up for the SEC Championship tomorrow. Fans across Alabama and Georgia are getting excited as the Georgia Bulldogs and Auburn Tigers get ready to face off with the stakes very…

Driver, Dog Owner Charged for Lakebottom Fatality

  The Driver who struck and killed a pedestrian earlier this month is facing criminal charges. Investigators tell First News all four people involved in the fatal accident on Cherokee Avenue are residents of Lakebottom.…

Thieves Caught on Camera smashing into Gun Shop

  Thieves strike a local gun shop in a brazen attempt to burglarize the business. Retired SFC Rodney Stariha thought opening a gun shop in East Alabama would be a good transition into civilian life…