AL Deputy Charged in Revenge Beating; Murder Unsolved


Federal authorities on Monday arrested Justin Watson, a former Madison County, Ala., deputy sheriff, for his role in the roadside beating of a Tennessee handyman in August 2012, reports Justin Watson, who quit the force in April, is charged with five counts related to the beating, lying under oath and intimidating witnesses, including aiming an unloaded gun at a fellow deputy and pulling the trigger. The victim of the beating, Robert Bryant, settled a lawsuit against Watson and other sheriff’s employees last year for $625,000. Bryant said he was stalked and beaten in revenge for a barroom scuffle with Watson.

The beating of Bryant passed without public scrutiny for nearly a year, until Bryant’s wealthy advocate, Jason Klonowski, was found shot three times in the back of the head at his home outside Huntsville. Klonowski, who had employed Bryant as a handyman, had printed t-shirts supporting Bryant, helped pay for his lawyers, and hosted a rally at his home in September 2013, vowing to see Watson and other deputies imprisoned. One month later, Klonowski’s body was found posed in a chair near his barn. The execution remains unsolved, but it set in motion a chain of events that led to Watson’s indictment.

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