The Elberton Star Reports Murder charges filed Grand jury indictment handed down in 2013 case

starAn Elbert County man was indicted on a murder charge by an Elbert County grand jury last week for the June 2013 drowning death of his wife. Elbert County Detention Center officials said Michael Lanier Watkins, 58, of 2607 Dempsey Brown Road was arrested and jailed Thursday and is being held on murder charges. Two days earlier, on Tuesday, Aug. 2, an Elbert County grand jury indicted Watkins on one count of malice murder, one charge of felony murder and one charge of aggravated assault. Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special (GBI) Agent in Charge Mike Ayers of the Athens regional office said there would be no comment on why Watkins’ arrest came more than three years after the drowning death of his wife, Meredith Leigh-Kinard Watkins, 29. Elbert County’s Dive Team recovered the wife’s body near the Coldwater Creek Boat Ramp at 1:50 a.m. June 18, 2013. She was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Elbert County Coroner and Emergency Medical Services Director Chuck Almond. Eight months prior to the drowning, Meredith Leigh-Kinard Watkins was shot in the abdomen during a shooting incident on Oct. 12, 2012. After that incident she told investigators that she was “very possibly” wounded by a “deer hunter.” In the 2012 shooting incident the wife was treated at the scene then airlifted to Greenville (South Carolina) Memorial Hospital. She told investigators she had been shot while she was attending to livestock. The 2012 shooting incident was investigated by the Elbert County Sheriff’s Department and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. At the time of the drowning, investigators said that the shooting incident was still under investigation and that it had “never been determined” who did the shooting. The “true” bill of indictment was handed down last week during the July 2016 term of the Elbert County grand jury. The indictment stated that Michael Watkins placed his wife in Coldwater Creek while the wife “was so intoxicated that she was incapable of swimming.” According to the indictment, GBI Special Agent Chris McKeown and Madison County Sheriff Department Deputy Jimmy Justice were witnesses in the presentation of the case to the grand jury. Justice was a former employee

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