By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
A Roosevelt County man was indicted Friday in the 9th Judicial District Court in connection with the 2005 shooting death of Causey rancher Jimmy “Bo” Chunn, according to District Attorney Matt Chandler.
William “Billy” Joe Watson, 44, is charged with accessory to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory to attempted manufacturing of methamphetamine, a press release said.
If convicted, he faces a minimum of life in prison, Chandler said.
Watson, who has been in the custody of the department of corrections for a year, is awaiting trial in federal court on charges of interstate racketeering and conspiracy to commit manufacturing methamphetamine over 50 grams, in connection with the homicide.
Federal court records show Watson agreed to provide Donald Taylor with anhydrous ammonia, an ingredient used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.
Taylor, in exchange, agreed to kill Chunn, court records said.
Chun, 71, was shot in his home around July 4, 2005.
Watson, according to the federal indictment, led undercover agents to 850 gallons of anhydrous ammonia he purchased to give to Taylor.
Investigators also intercepted a letter Taylor wrote Watson confirming their deal, which said, “… we discussed the favor and as you now (sp) I upheld my part of the deal as ofseven four (July 4) and I want you to uphold your end with the Ann-hi-d (anhydrous ammonia)…”.
In June 2007, Watson and Taylor, also of Roosevelt County, were among group of 19 people indicted on federal charges connected to the case.
The federal case is scheduled to go to trial in March 2009, Chandler said.
The federal case targeted members of the Aryan Brotherhood and others for alleged violations of federal law including violent crimes — murder, kidnapping and drug and firearm offenses — in aid of racketeering.
The Aryan Brotherhood is a white supremacist gang formed in San Quentin State Prison, Calif., in 1964.
The group was initially founded as a way of protecting white inmates from other prisoners in the prison system but has expanded its influence outside the prison system, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Web site.
In years since the group formed, it has engaged in drug and firearms trafficking among other illegal activities.
While Taylor is a documented member of the Aryan Brotherhood, Watson has no documented membership with the group, Chandler said.
Chandler, appointed as a special federal prosecutor in the case, said though Taylor was indicted on federal first-degree murder charges, federal court does not provide an avenue to charge Watson as an accessory.
“The United States Attorney’s Office contacted the district attorney’s office and asked us for assistance in charging Mr. Watson as an accomplice and conspirator because they don’t have the authority to charge those crimes on a federal level,” he said.
The case could become a death penalty case, Chandler said, as murder for hire is an aggravating circumstance.
“The district attorney’s office has a short period of time to determine if they are going to file a notice to seek the death penalty or not,” he said.