Florida freshman defensive back Justin Watkins, who was arrested Tuesday on four charges involving domestic violence, was released Wednesday afternoon from the Alachua County jail after posting bail.
Watkins, 19, appeared in court for the first time Wednesday morning on two misdemeanor charges of battery, a third degree felony charge of false imprisonment of an adult and a third degree felony charge of domestic battery by strangulation. His bond was set then at $40,000.
A standing no contact order was issued for Watkins to refrain from contact, verbal and physical, with the alleged victim. A source close to Watkins indicated the family intends to hire a Gainesville attorney, but until that happens public defender Canaan Goldman will represent Watkins. Meanwhile the state has assigned prosecutor Sean Brewer, the Division Chief in the Crimes Against Women and Families unit, to the case.
It’s Watkins’ second arrest in 11 weeks involving an alleged female victim, and the incident report this time does little to prove Watkins’ innocence.
According to a University of Florida Police Department arrest report, Watkins intentionally struck the victim, with whom he had been in a relationship with since December, with an open and closed fist while holding her down on a bed on July 20.
Watkins proceeded to mount the victim, according to the report, and “wrapped his hands around the victim’s throat with both hands, blocking her airway and impeding breathing.” Watkins, who knew the victim had asthma, “repeated to block the airway twice more for period of approximately 8 seconds,” the report states.
When the alleged victim attempted to exit Watkins’ residence, located at Keys Residential Complex at UF, Watkins allegedly blocked the exit and “grabbed her hair and belt, yanking her back into the room, preventing her escape.” It was only when the victim sprayed Watkins in the face with mace that she was able to leave the residence hall, whereupon Watkins “then chased her out the door and down the stairs” and proceeded to throw a “hard wooden brush” and a container of hair grease at the alleged victim, according to the report.
On Monday, the alleged victim filed a report with UPD, where photographs taken by investigators of the alleged victim’s injuries were consistent with her description of the incident.
Following Watkins’ arrest, UF coach Dan Mullen suspended the Clermont native from all team activities pending an investigation.
Watkins also was arrested May 9 in Ocala after he allegedly kicked a woman’s car and broke her cellphone during an argument. Police say he then followed her to Vanguard High School, where she was a student. Watkins was arrested on a misdemeanor complaint of trespassing on school grounds.
Watkins, a former four-star prospect out of East Ridge High in Clermont, enrolled at Florida in June for the Summer B semester. One of the highest rated members of Florida’s 2018 class, Watkins was expected to contribute as a cornerback and on special teams despite being rated as one of the state’s top wide receiver prospects. But now, pending the outcome of the investigation, it appears Watkins’ potential UF career is in jeopardy.