Portland News

Deasia Watkins Sentenced To 15 Years To Life In Prison For Decapitating Baby

Deasia Watkins, the mom who was convicted of decapitating her baby, has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. The jury found Watkins guilty on all counts, including capital murder and abuse of a corpse after just two hours of deliberation. She will serve at least 17 years in prison before she’s eligible for parole. As part of the plea deal, the death penalty was not an option, despite the fact that Watkins admitted to killing her one-year-old daughter Nala in October 2015 when asked what she did with the child’s head.

A horrific crime of Deasia Watkins

The details of the gruesome crime Deasia Watkins committed, followed by her sentencing are horrific. It all started when she gave birth and decapitated her baby while it was still alive. When people tried to help her they saw that the infant’s head was still attached to the body with a rope-like umbilical cord. In April of 2018, Deasia pleaded guilty to murder. And was sentence to a maximum of 25 years imprisonment. But that sentence was suspend. Because she had agreed to a plea deal. That said she will get 15 years with credit for time serve since December 1, 2017.

Court documents state that on June 27, 2017, Deasia Watkins gave birth at her apartment on Walton Way where she used a knife to decapitate her baby. It is unclear if the baby was alive or not during the horrific act of Deasia. In a plea deal hearing last year, prosecutors said that they found no signs of trauma indicating sexual assault and they couldn’t prove exactly when she delivered it because she didn’t know. The court papers went on to say that when police arrived they saw Deasia sitting in a chair next to her bed wearing only panties and covered in blood with an open can of beer next to her. There was blood all over her blankets, walls, and floor along with pieces of tissue paper scattered about.

How did this happen?

19-year-old Deasia Watkins of Buffalo, New York was sentence on Wednesday, February 12th to 15 years to life in prison. She pleaded guilty last year after admitting she decapitated her six-month-old daughter with a bread knife on December 28th of last year.

The horrific and unimaginable scene played out as follows: on December 28th of last year, Deasia Watkins attacked her six-month-old daughter, Abaika Lashaen Lawrence. After repeatedly stabbing the baby’s head with a bread knife from the kitchen, she dropped the headless body back into the crib and lay down next to it for two hours before calling emergency services about an unresponsive baby who wouldn’t wake up.

The judge’s perspective

Today the Judge sentenced Deasia Watkins to fifteen years to life. It was a difficult decision given that Ms. Watkins, a homeless mother of four, will probably spend the rest of her life incarcerated. She initially plead not guilty by reason of insanity but after further evaluation and hearings, it was clear that she knew what she was doing when she decapitated an eight-month-old baby, James Johnson Jr., on March 26th. This act appears rooted in grief and desperation given the gruesome account where she told investigators that the boy’s head came off when he wouldn’t stop crying and pulling at her hair. I am glad that Ms. Watkins accepted responsibility for her actions because if she didn’t we would be dealing with two victims. The toddler who is now dead, and his siblings who are now without their father. The father has committed suicide since this tragedy occurred.

Deasia Watkins

Unfortunately, this type of story is all too common in America today with hundreds of murders involving children each year. We need to make changes to ensure that these things don’t happen again; some states have started testing pregnant women for drugs like methamphetamines so they can help pregnant mothers before there is a problem, which shows more empathy than putting them away after the child has been hurt or killed.

Does mental illness play a role?

There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Deasia Watkins, the 26-year-old mother who decapitated her one-year-old son, has any type of mental illness.

If this were true, then it would be an additional tragic circumstance considering how horrific her crime was. If not, then we should be angry and outraged. Deasia may have committed this act out of frustration from feeling like she didn’t have any other way out of a bad situation and when she did commit this horrific act, she likely lost all control over herself. 

Regardless of whether or not Deasia Watkins has a mental illness, mental illness clearly played a role in her life as well as her son’s death. As someone with an intimate understanding of the struggles that come with having bipolar disorder, I can say that there is no reason why Deasia should not have been able to get help before committing such a heinous act. The system failed her at every turn and now she will serve time where I am sure that no one will care about what happens to her except for maybe some prison guard who can look past the ugly label that society has put on criminals like Deasia Watkins.

What does the community think?

Social media exploded after the judge sentenced Deasia Watkins, a 24-year-old woman who decapitated her 1-year-old daughter. Over 200 people commented on the post, with one person comparing her punishment to a DUI. The overwhelming opinion was that she deserved life in prison. And should never be release. Citing how disturb she must be if she can harm an innocent child like that. 

She killed her 1-year-old baby daughter! Do you know what type of person does something like that? That is not someone who needs to get out and see what it’s like on the other side again.

What about punishment?

I believe that Deasia Watkins should have the book thrown at her. She has been convict of second-degree murder and was sentence to 15 years to life in prison. I do not think she deserves more than this due to the severity of her crime, but I believe her crimes deserve some form of punishment.

She committed second-degree murder by decapitating a four-month-old baby. After being unable to handle the extreme stress. That came with raising a child and being face with single parenthood. Some people say that given the circumstances, she doesn’t deserve the maximum punishment for what she did. In my opinion, no matter what her mental state or personal circumstances were. She deserves some form of severe punishment because killing an innocent child is never okay.

Opinions expressed by Portland News contributors are their own.