Teen accused of conspiring to kill grandmother will face murder trial

Credit: NBC Charlotte

Clayton Eli Watts sits in court during his hearing on Wednesday.



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Posted on April 24, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 24 at 5:28 PM

CHESTER, S.C. -- A magistrate ruled on Wednesday there is enough evidence to proceed with a murder trial against Clayton Eli Watts, the teen accused in the shooting death of his grandmother.

Watts is accused of being mastermind behind a plot to kill his grandparents.

Jimmie Dianne Paul, 59, was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound in the kitchen of her home on Williamsville Church Road in January.

Authorities said Paul's grandson, Clayton Eli Watts, hired classmate Marquaes Issale Eric Buchanan, 18, and Shaiderius Demarck Cohen, 19, to kill both his grandparents because they were too strict.

On Wednesday, Pauls' husband Mack, who's also believed to be a target of the scheme, urged the judge to deny the trio's bond.

"Please do not allow these people bond under any circumstance," Paul pleaded.

The judge denied bond for all three suspects Wednesday at their preliminary hearing.

"I'm just still trying to figure out what's what,” said an upset Isaac Buchanan, father of Marquaes, "I just don't understand what's going on yet...  that's all I have to say."

Watts hatched the plan before last Christmas and told Buchanan he would pay him $5,000 a piece to kill both grandparents. Buchanan then recruited Cohen to help, according to police.

In late January, Watts contacted Buchanan and Cohen and made arrangements to pick them up in town. Watts gave them guns from his grandparent's house, according to the sheriff's office.

They went to Watts' grandparent's home and waited for them to arrive. Watts' grandfather arrived at home first but went to his barn to work on a boat instead of going inside the house, according to the Sheriff's Office.

A few moments later, Paul, Watts' grandmother, arrived home and walked into her kitchen where she was shot three times by Cohen, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Both Cohen and Buchanan ran from the home after the shooting and were arrested a short time later.

Watts was in his room acting like he was asleep during the whole incident, the Sheriff's Office said.

Watts, Buchanan and Cohen were all three charged in connection with the killing of Paul, who for three years worked in the Clerk of Court's office.

Buchanan and Cohen both declined to have a preliminary hearing to listen to the prosecutors’ evidence against them in the murder case.

No trial date has been set.