TAMPA — Testifying before a judge and jury 12 years ago, Andre R. Watkins said he'd never hurt a woman. But he called himself a "trained killer," capable of standing up for himself.
"I'm a Doberman pinscher, ma'am," he told his attorney in a 1998 domestic battery trial. "I can rip the heads off of people because I was trained by the United States Marine Corps."
He wasn't a Marine, authorities say, and court documents portray a man who couldn't control his rage. He needed psychiatric drugs for intermittent explosive disorder, a psychiatrist concluded in a court-ordered evaluation.
His mother, Andray Watkins, told investigators in 2008 that her son has been held under the Baker Act, which allows for people to be detained when they are deemed a threat to themselves.
And court records, arrest reports and 911 calls describe Watkins as a man who hurt women and children.
In January 1998, his live-in girlfriend told deputies Watkins hit her and her 17-year-old daughter. A few months later, he was sentenced to about a year in jail for beating his ex-girlfriend, the mother of his son, now 13.
In November, a 911 call requesting deputies to Watkins' house — where he lived with his mother and nephew — was made by a male who told dispatchers that his uncle "told him to clean his room or he's going to bury him tonight or cripple him."
Watkins is accused of gunning down a 19-year-old woman and injuring two other people Friday night.
One of the men shot was Ariel Love, 27, the son of Fred Watson.
In 2008, Watson told deputies that Watkins chased him with a gun and his dog after Watson, a lawn maintenance worker, looked at a lawn to assess whether it needed to be mowed.
But the charges were dropped. When asked to testify in May, Watson told an assistant state attorney that he wanted to move on and forgive.
Without a victim or the alleged weapon, there would be a small chance of success in prosecuting the case, Hillsborough State Attorney's Office spokesman Mark Cox said.
In Watkins' first appearance Sunday morning to face homicide charges, he demanded a private lawyer and screamed obscenities at a judge.
In a Tuesday bond hearing, he appeared calmer.
Attorney Dominic Fariello, who represented Watkins in last year's assault case, is representing him again. On Tuesday, he declined to comment on his client's mental state.
Watkins faces charges of first-degree murder, armed carjacking, armed kidnapping and three counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Starting about 6:30 p.m. Friday, Hillsborough sheriff's officials say Watkins carjacked a truck, killed 19-year-old Alyssa Marie Aracich, wounded Love and convenience store clerk Akbar Alwani, 57, and fired several shots at a neighbor in a period that spanned several miles in different vehicles.
Court records show that Watkins' criminal history goes back as far as 1988, when he was convicted of a firearms violation in Virginia. He also was convicted of giving false information to a licensed firearm dealer. He was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.
Released in 1995, he moved to Florida, court records state. A few years later, his federal probation officer told deputies that Watkins "has a temper" and that he had been ordered to long-term counseling at St. Joseph's Hospital.
In 2002, Watkins was pulled over after deputies discovered he was driving a 2001 white Ford Mustang convertible that had been reported stolen. He said he was driving a car he had rented. He told investigators he often rented cars from a Tampa rental company using his mother's MasterCard, and he always paid her back.
Deputies said that when they searched him, they found a prescription bottle in his pocket with 32 pills of five varieties. He didn't have a prescription on him, so they seized the pills.
The report came back: Percocet, diazepam, methocarbamol, Skelaxin and Depakote. They were pain relievers, anxiety medication, muscle relaxants and mood stabilizers.
The drug charges were dropped. He had prescriptions for each one.
Times staff researcher John Martin and staff writers Kim Wilmath and Shelley Rossetter contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.