LARGO — Anthony Edward Watson was shackled and handcuffed as he came to court on Tuesday for trial, but the restraints didn't prevent him from spitting on his own attorney after a discussion about his legal rights. So Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Richard Luce ordered Watson to wear a spit guard during his trial on sexual battery, robbery and kidnapping charges.
Watson, 51, was charged in 1992 with robbing and raping a woman at an Oldsmar dry cleaners, kidnapping and robbing a woman from a Palm Harbor Pick Kwik and robbing a woman he met at a Clearwater probation office.
He pleaded guilty and got a 160-year prison sentence.
He filed numerous appeals and, with help from state public defenders, successfully argued that his sentence was longer than the law allowed.
With help from federal public defenders, he won a new trial, based on evidence that he was mentally ill and incompetent at the time he pleaded guilty.
This week's trial concerns the crimes at the dry cleaners and the Pick Kwik. Both victims have been attending the preliminary hearings and are ready to testify about what happened to them 19 years ago.
Opening arguments are scheduled for today.