A man accused of killing two people and trying to kill dozens of others in the general vicinity of Western Avenue over a three-year period pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two murder charges and numerous other felonies.
Patrick Watkins, 51, who is believed to be the so-called “Western Bandit,” was arrested Oct. 29 at his apartment in South Los Angeles and remained jailed without bail.
He was charged Nov. 2 with the shooting death of Nathan “Cassidy” Vickers, a 32-year-old transgender woman believed to have been working as a prostitute on Nov. 17, 2011, near Lexington Avenue and Gower Street.
Watkin is also charged with murdering a man named Larise Smith, 56, on Dec. 8, 2014, in the 2800 block of West 42nd Street.
The murder charges include the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty.
Along with the killings, Watkins is charged with 26 counts of attempted murder, 13 counts of assault with a firearm, four counts each of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and second-degree robbery and one count each of shooting at an inhabited dwelling, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, attempted second-degree robbery and possession of a firearm by a felon.
“In some ways, just calling him a bandit doesn’t begin to capture the fear and the actions of this man,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said last month at a news conference at LAPD headquarters.
“He’s a cold-blooded killer, somebody who terrorized the streets of Los Angeles for too long,” Garcetti said. “But with this arrest, the streets of Los Angeles become a little bit safer for all of us.”
He is also suspected in a number of armed robberies of individuals and businesses including convenience stores. The crimes generally occurred between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., along an eight-mile stretch of Western Avenue, according to police.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said DNA evidence helped lead investigators to Watkins. A handgun believed to have been used in the homicides and the armed robberies was recovered by police, Beck said.
LAPD Capt. William Hayes said Watkins would approach a potential victim, fire shots — many times wounding the victim — and then rob the person. He said there was no indication victims were targeted based on gender. Prosecutors said Watkins would approach victims either on a bicycle or on foot and either demand cash or shoot them.
The last crime that detectives specifically tied to Watkins was Smith’s killing last December, Hayes said.
Watkins is due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Jan. 20, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial on the 53 felony counts.
—City News Service
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