Watson Haynes III, son of St. Petersburg community activist, pleads guilty to second-degree murder

ST. PETERSBURG — The son of a longtime community activist has pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge and received a 15-year prison sentence.

Watson Haynes III, 39, was arrested shortly after a June 23 fight at Williams Park that left a man severely injured. The man, Charles Roach, 57, died from his injuries a few days later.

St. Petersburg police at the time described both men as transients. Police said they had gotten into a fight and that Haynes took a backpack from Roach.

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe said defense attorneys approached his office offering to have Haynes plead guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a 15-year prison sentence, which would be the maximum for a manslaughter conviction. McCabe said he agreed to the 15 years but insisted that the charge remain murder.

McCabe said records indicate that Haynes had serious mental health issues, including not understanding his Miranda rights.

He said the plea offer came early in the case, before an extensive investigation, which can make such offers more attractive to prosecutors.

Haynes is the son of Watson Haynes II, a longtime community activist and president and chief executive officer of the Pinellas County Urban League.

The elder Haynes said at the time of the arrest that his son had battled bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses for more than 20 years.

Watson Haynes III, son of St. Petersburg community activist, pleads guilty to second-degree murder 10/12/12 [Last modified: Friday, October 12, 2012 11:51pm]

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