Accused shooter had history of mental disorders, wife says — (FLORIDA TODAY)

Original article no longer available


September 7, 2001

By Brian Monroe, Florida Today

SHARPES — Bandaged, shirtless and in a wheelchair, Samuel Watts was in court Thursday after being charged with 15 counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated battery in a shootout with Cocoa police Saturday at his home.

Via close-circuit television, Watts appeared before County Court Judge T. Mitchell Barlow, but his attorneys didn’t ask for bail, which usually happens during the proceeding.

Instead, attorney Kenneth Rhoden asked to set up a second appearance before Circuit Court Judge John D. Moxley, who is assigned the case, to hash out charges with the State Attorney’s Office.

Watts is charged with one count of attempted murder for each of the 15 bullets investigators were able to locate at the scene.

He was taking a lot of medications for back pain and depression,” Rhoden said. “We don’t know what effect, singularly or together, those had on what happened. He is a Navy veteran and while in the Navy got a serious back injury that has deteriorated.”

Rhoden said he would fight the 15 counts of attempted murder.

“Usually by law you aren’t charged by the amount of bullets fired at a person, but the amount of people you try to kill.”

The standoff began about 3:30 p.m. when a process server tried to present Watts with papers regarding a financial matter, Cocoa Police spokeswoman Barbara Matthews said.

Police said Watts tried to run over the server with his car before locking himself inside his home on Hightower Court.

Police were able to contact Watts’ wife, who said there were weapons in the house and that Watts had a history of mental disorders.

She was not in the home when she talked to police or when the SWAT team surrounded the house.

One neighbor, who was home during the shooting, says it remains fresh in his mind.

“I kept calm because I had a lot of other tragedies happen in my life recently,” said Jean Milos, who lives a few houses away. “I guess I am still numb.”

Watts’ next court date is Sept. 28.


Malcolm Denemark, FLORIDA TODAY

Samual Watts of Cocoa made his first appearance at the Brevard County Detention Center in Sharpes on Thursday. He was charged with 15 counts of attemped murder.

Record Number:  brv2001121711261363