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.”