Wake County deputies had to escort the boyfriend and friends of a slain college student from the courthouse Monday, after a verbal exchange with friends of the man accused of the crime.
Deputies herded Dre’Kwon Bagley and others from the courthouse Monday afternoon following the first court appearance for Xavier JaQuan Sanders, who is charged with the first-degree murder of Kari Onyea Watson, a Dean’s List freshman at Winston-Salem State University who was home for winter break. Sanders also was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.
Judge Keith Gregory told Sanders, 21, that he could face the death penalty or spend the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted of murder. Sanders was polite and quiet during his court appearance, and as deputies escorted him from the courtroom, a young man wearing a red Tommy Hilfiger shirt told him to “do some pushups. Do some pushups.”
Across the courtroom, a young woman with long, golden-brown braids said, “Wow,” in response, and the young man glared at her before leaving followed by nearly a half dozen other young men.
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Another group of young people, including Bagley and the woman with the braids, then left the courtroom, and the two groups met in the hallway. The man in the Hilfiger shirt, who said he was Sanders’ brother, Tyrek, told news reporters that Sanders couldn’t have shot Watson because he was with him the entire day.
The young woman with the braids shouted that was not true because there were witnesses. “Me and my kids!” she shouted. The words grew angrier, with the woman telling the man that she hoped “Your momma die and your brother.”
Deputies arrived and escorted Bagley, the woman and other members of the group out of the courthouse.
The shooting took place about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday. Bagley told a 911 dispatcher that he and Watson had just gotten out of a car in front of his mother’s house in the 2800 block of Filbert Street, off Rock Quarry Road, when a man wearing red pants and a black jacket began firing at them from across the street, according to a recording of the call made public Monday. Bagley was hit in the leg. Watson was struck in the arm and head.
Neighbors say Bagley dragged his wounded girlfriend into his mother’s home, where she died. A woman called 911 and asked an emergency dispatcher if she could send an ambulance because “My friend’s girlfriend just got shot,” according to the 911 recording.
Bagley got on the phone, and the dispatcher asked him if Watson was breathing.
“She’s dead,” Bagley said as his voice dissolved into sobs. “She’s not breathing. She’s [expletive deleted] dead!”
Bagley told the operator he wasn’t sure if the man fled in a car or on foot.
Police charged Sanders with the shooting the following day, Christmas Eve.
Friends and officials at Winston-Salem State University described Watson as a remarkable young woman who looked forward to a career in teaching. Michelle Gardner, who started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Watson’s funeral expenses, said she graduated this year from Southeast Raleigh High School and earned one of the first Wake County Future Teachers Scholarships.
Investigators have not yet disclosed a motive for the shooting or details of the crime.
Bagley, still limping from the gunshot wound to the leg, pulled at a chain around his neck that held a picture of Watson as he declined comment about the shootings or the verbal altercation with Sander’s friends inside the courthouse.
“My wife is gone, man,” he said, “and ain’t nothing I can say will bring her back.”
Sanders remained in the Wake County jail Monday afternoon without benefit of bail.