One member of a Utah family being mugged on a midtown Manhattan subway platform ran to a youth for help but was horrified when he turned out to be the gang's lookout and grabbed her, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
In the next seconds, Brian Watkins, 22, was fatally stabbed as he tried to defend his mother, who was punched in the face, and his father, who was slashed with a box-cutter and robbed of $200.Eight youths indicted on charges of robbery and felony murder in his killing Sept. 2 were held without bail after a hearing in the state Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wednesday. Four were denied bail, three reserved their right to apply for bail at a later date, and the lawyer for one failed to appear.
In his bail arguments to Judge Edwin Torres, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Schiels said he had a strong case against the youths, particularly against Pascal Charpentier, 18.
Schiels said Charpentier allegedly prevented Michelle Watkins, wife of Brian's brother, Todd, from escaping the platform and seeking help.
Unknown to her, Charpentier was acting as the lookout for the gang that set out to rob people for money to go disco dancing at the nearby Roseland Ballroom, the prosecutor said.
"While the robbery was taking place, while the knives were out, while the Watkins parents were being cut," the young woman ran to the youth for help, Schiels said.
To her horror, "he held her so that she could not run for help," Schiels said.
Schiels also said the grand jury that indicted the accused killer, Yull Garry Morales, 19, outwardly scoffed at Morales' claim that Watkins fell on the "butterfly knife" and thereby caused his own death.
"Morales in his videotaped statement gave a story so preposterous that when the grand jury heard it, they actually laughed," Schiels said.
"He said he was separated from the others, saw them in a fight with individuals and took a knife out to scare them. He had the knife by his side, the knife was pointed toward the ground and one of these individuals fell on his knife and died," Schiels told the judge.
As in all the other cases, Schiels asked the judge to continue holding Morales without bail.
Outside court, Morales' lawyer, Joel Lutwin, told reporters, "We'll see who has the last laugh at the trial."
Lutwin told the judge that Morales should be treated leniently because he is one of the few members of the gang, whose initials "FTS" stand for a string of expletives, who has never been arrested before.