Oct 1 – Two defendants were tried on charges of assault in connection with the alleged violent abduction of a three-year-old boy from his grandmother a month ago in Joplin.
The main defendant in the case, Savon M. Watts, 29, of Joplin, waived a preliminary hearing in Jasper County District Court on Thursday for first degree assault and first degree burglary and impairment of custody.
His co-defendant, Ajuann L. Parks, 25, who is represented by another attorney, was handcuffed by Judge Joe Hensley at the end of his tenure for third degree assault and interference with custody of a felony preliminary hearing.
Maria Maturino, the grandmother of three-year-old Markwayne Watts, testified that she has custody of her grandson, who is the son of her late daughter and Savon Watts. She said the boy has lived in her house since he was born.
“He has nothing from his father, only from me,” said the Spanish-speaking grandmother through a court interpreter at the hearing.
After her daughter died seven months ago, she was granted custody of the boy, she said. The father never visited the boy while her daughter was alive and never showed up for court hearings after the death of her daughter, who granted her custody, she testified.
She said the father had only recently come to her home in Joplin to visit his son. She said that it was her first time in Mexico by chance and placed the boys in the care of their other adult children, who accompanied the child on a visit to his father. The second time she was there and Watts played with his son, she said.
He came to her home a third time on August 28, and she and the child met him at her door. She said Watts asked his son if he wanted to go to the park. The boy took a few steps and Watts swept him up and went to his vehicle without her consent.
The story goes on
She said she packed his shirt to stop him and held it all the way to the vehicle. He put the boy in the vehicle, got in himself and was about to leave, so she tried to stop him by getting in herself.
She said Watts then pleaded with Parks, who was in the passenger seat of his vehicle, to help him get her out, and Parks got out of the vehicle and grabbed her arm. She said that she had her foot in the vehicle when she was grabbed and pulled away, and that her foot was injured in the process and then injured a second time when the vehicle suddenly backed up and one of its tires hit the foot.
A probable cause affidavit filed in the case states that Parks knocked Maturino to the ground. While her testimony indicated that Parks’ and the vehicle’s contact with her caused Maturino to land on the ground with three broken bones in his foot, she didn’t describe exactly what Parks had done when knocking her to the ground.
Defense attorney William Fleischaker cross-examined Maturino if she knew whether Parks knew that she, not Watts, had custody of the boy, and she admitted that she did not know what Parks might have known about the matter. She said she never told her because she didn’t speak English.
Maturino has been wearing hiking boots since the incident and had to testify in court on Thursday. The judge set Watts and Parks’ first appearances in a litigation division of the court to be December 6th.