Cops: Ex-Gator claims teammate used voodoo on him

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Justin Watkins. [PAUL RYAN /CORRESPONDENT]

Justin Watkins, a former receiver on the University of Florida football team, changed his story to police repeatedly during the investigation of domestic violence charges against him last month.

He claimed the woman, with whom he had a relationship, was also in a relationship with another player on the team, based on “likes” on Instagram, and that the other player was using voodoo to disrupt Watkins’ cellphone.

Watkins announced last week that he intended to quit the team and leave the university. On Thursday, UF head coach Dan Mullen said Watkins was no longer on the team.

Watkins, 19, of Clermont, signed with the Gators on National Signing Day in February, but found himself arrested in Ocala for trespassing in May after a domestic dispute with a female. On Tuesday, he pleaded no contest to that charge.

Watkins was arrested again July 24 after a woman went to the UF police department alleging Watkins choked, beat and assaulted her by throwing a hair brush and can of hair grease. He is facing four charges that include false imprisonment/kidnapping and domestic battery by strangulation. Both are third-degree felonies.

According to the full UPD report obtained by The Gainesville Sun, Watkins told police the altercation began when he noticed another player on the UF squad “liked” several of the woman’s Instagram photos.

Watkins called the player on FaceTime and asked if he knew her, which the player denied. Watkins replied, “If you don’t say the truth, I’ll kill her,” according to the report.

After ending the call, Watkins pinned the woman to a bed, the report said, and knocked his head against her head, saying “I’m tired of you playing with me.”

Watkins continued to strike the woman while questioning her about the other player, before calling the player again and threatening to beat him up, the report states.

Watkins continued the assault on the woman, pinning her to the bed again, the report says. He wrapped his hands around her neck and choked her three times, once for 15 seconds and twice for about eight seconds.

She asked to leave, but Watkins then confined her to the room by standing in the doorway and blocking the exit, according to the report. The woman sprayed mace in his face and fled.

Watkins chased her out the door and down the stairs, according to the report. He then threw a wooden brush, hitting her left hand, and a container of hair grease that also struck her hand.

After meeting with investigators, the woman requested a complaint withdrawal form and did not intend to pursue charges against Watkins. But based on their eight-month relationship, the case was classified as domestic violence and police said the complaint withdrawal could not be honored.

While meeting with UPD investigators, Watkins’ “story changed multiple times,” the report says, and he originally claimed the other player was not involved. Once investigators mentioned looking up Watkins’ phone history, Watkins acknowledged he “might have FaceTimed (the other player) multiple times.”

Watkins told police he has known the woman since high school but that he was not with her on July 20 when the alleged assault occurred, and that the two were not in a relationship “in any way.”

But, under further questioning, Watkins told investigators she was two months pregnant and that he likely was the father.

During the ride to jail, Watkins continued telling investigators the other player and the woman were sleeping together, even though he had not seen them together and had no proof, the report said.

Watkins alleged the other player “does voodoo” and has been doing voodoo on Watkins for some time, including making his “phone screen crash,” the report said.

Investigators also met with Watkins’ roommate, who was also on the football team, who informed investigators it was common for Watkins and the woman to get into altercations, although he did not recall the July 20 incident.

Watkins was released from the Alachua County jail July 25 on a $40,000 bond. He has entered a not guilty plea and hired Ocala-based lawyer James P. Tarquin, who has not returned calls seeking comment.

State Attorney Bill Cervone said his office is in the process of interviewing witnesses. “We have the case against him,” he said. “That’s an ongoing investigation.”

40 COMMENTS

      • Leland. You try your kind of voodoo on me every day in your comments to others. Not the very effective kind of voodoo. I will not be drawn into your nonsense. And Arnold has already warned people about talking sports conversation off task. Your comment is very off task and inflammatory. Thank you.

  1. Just glad Wilkins is off the UF campus and team. He is obviously a very disturbed young person and needs some serious psychological help and intervention or he will likely kill someone some day. And likely a woman and an innocent person due to unreasonable, illogical, unjustifiable, sociopathic emotional reactions. Scary stuff contained in this article. I for one would prefer not knowing anything else about this dangerous person who is no longer associated with the university or the football program. Let the criminal justice system take care of him. I have a feeling he is going to get to know them well during his lifetime, however short or long that lifetime might be.

  2. How does somebody like this get a UF scholarship? Do recruiters do background checks? Was there nothing in his past to indicate he was a bad person?

    • I would expect UF coaches are expected to do their due diligence in recruiting players by the UF administration. But I think Wilkins might have skipped under that somehow. Researching his educational behavioral records would be very interesting. He certainly sent up a red flag right before his arrival at UF, but that red flag was clearly ignored. I am sure the UF administration will or has met with Mullen concerning Wilkins recruitment.

  3. I am glad he is gone, but wonder why our coaches did not know about this sort of thing. He belongs in jail if not prison, not on a college campus in any way. His mental state is very questionable. He needs to be expelled from school as well as the team.

  4. Vulcan. A university cannot expel someone who is not enrolled at that university. Wilkins is no longer enrolled at UF.

      • Don’t forget a lot of your killers and psychopaths in history were also smart. Just because he MIGHT be crazy doesn’t mean he can’t meet academic standards. I use the word might because it also could be his defense for a lesser punishment when it comes time for his day in court. He might know he screwed up big and is making it seem like he crazy so that way he put in a institution instead of prison.

        • TampaGator–as usual, you don’t let reality stand in the way of what you say. Read Chapter 11 in Herrnstein and Murray. Look, there’s nothing wrong with knowing what you’re talking about. Give it a try.

        • Tampa fair IQ with mental illness are some of the most dangerous out there. Ted Kaz aka unabomber had a through the roof intelligence and did horrible things.

          • Thank God guys in that category really only account for approximately only .13% of the distribution, otherwise we’d be in some serious do-do with regard to ultra-smart criminals.

    • Tampa….I’m afraid the voodoo has gotten to you too. After reading you type “Wilkins” a couple times, nothing else could explain it. On a serious note, Watkins being out of Gainesville will be a positive move for the Gator program.

      • You know, Sparky, as much as I’m tempted to make fun of him too, the more I see it as part and parcel to wanting to forget this guy ever crossed paths with the Gators, no matter how briefly. I bet Coach Mullings does too.

    • Well now that he has provided a logical explanation for this fiasco I think he should be reinstated. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Finally people can feel safe coming out about being victims of Voodoo. This will be bigger than the Me Too movement.

  5. Why does this idjut get another article written about anything that comes out of his mouth? He appears to be TOTALLY OUT TO LUNCH!!! What part of his story sounds like he isn’t in major denial? He is not living in reality!!!

  6. Read the headline and went straight to the comments. Just WOW. This tire fire that has been Gator football for going on 10 years should be put out of its misery.

  7. Voodoo? No wonder he didn’t sign with LSU. He was afraid of the voodoo up their in Norleans. Wow, this guy is in need of serious counseling. But if true maybe the unnamed teammate can cast a voodoo spell on fsu. We will call it the fsu voodoo or foodoo for short.

  8. This kid is broken and he needs some help. We can all agree he needs to be away from the UF program,but the larger question is how many degrees of separation is he from Aaron Hernandez. This isn’t an isolated situation, it happens way too much in our college arena today. Seems as though every coaching staff needs a team psychiatrist. We spend so much time dealing with broken bones and torn ACLs. We might need to invest a little more time on fixing fractured young minds..

  9. This story still irks me, and that is the intent of a victim mentality–place the blame on anyone but the real perpetrator! Graham expertly began his article, “Watkins … changed his story to police repeatedly during the investigation.” The end of the soap opera, at least at UF. I truly hope he realizes, sooner than later, “I met the enemy, and I am it!”

    • Chances of that are slim, doc, if his problem(s) lie on Axis II, which it sounds like. None of which is exculpatory if so, but the likelihood of him ever recognizing his own contributions to his state of affairs is low.

  10. Watkins needs serious anger management counseling, #me too counseling and a box of condoms and just make sure he doesn’t use any voodoo needles on them.
    The U F recruiter need some “what was I thinking counseling”

  11. Hey guys I think a lot of you all, you make great and passionate comments. It just kinda gets me in this day and age where we want to pile on a 19 year old who has already screwed up enough. He did wrong. Multiple times. But back in the day, all of us turned a blind eye on A Hernandez and P Harvin, although they had a track record of violence, because they were superstars on the field. If AH had received some legit help, maybe he doesn’t end up a murderer and dead. Ask Billy Gonzales what Percy did to him in practice. Some of our best talent includes young guys who are on the edge, maybe they cant be helped, but if we dont try to help them, every season is gonna be filled with this same type of drama. UF’s reputation is inching closer to that of the 1990s Hurricanes or the 1980s Sooners. Lets hope that can change. Go Gators.

    • Embedded in there are some good points, CJ. I’d submit that “back in the day” really wasn’t all that long ago, even tho it feels like it, and this under-culture of thug and hoodlum worship started even long before that. I’m with you, let’s hope that can change….but our society at large is also going to have to change what it will tolerate first. Good post, bud.

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