CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis County man has been found not guilty in the deaths of five people who were shot at an apartment complex in 2019.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a jury deliberated less than two hours Wednesday before acquitting 33-year-old Anthony Watkins of five counts of first-degree murder and five weapons charges.
Prosecutors said Watkins and another man, Terrance Wesley, were seeking missing drugs before they killed five men in a partially boarded-up apartment known for drug deals on July 6, 2019. But Watkins’ attorney, Robert Taaffe, said Wesley was behind the killings and tried to implicate Watkins in an effort to get leniency.
Wesley reached a plea deal in July in exchange for his cooperation and testimony during the trial. He pleaded guilty to five counts of second-degree murder and weapons offenses and is awaiting sentencing.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said in a statement that prosecutors struggled with witness availability during the trial.