As it stands now, the preliminary hearing for Joseph Wert, 21, of Cedar Grove, the man charged with first degree
murder in the death of Larry Gene Watkins, Jr., 46, also of Cedar Grove, has been set for June 5 at 5 9 a.m.
Wert is currently free on$100,000 bond, awaiting the hearing which will be heard before Carroll County General
Sessions Judge Larry Logan.
Originally, his preliminary hearing was scheduled for March 27. However, due to the coronavirus outbreak, a
Supreme Court order was handed down that suspended in person court proceedings.
Wert is accused in the Jan. 14 shooting death of Watkins at Wert’s residence at 660 Moss Creek Road. He resided
there with his mother and father.
Carroll County Sheriff Andy Dickson said Watkins was shot twice, once in the neck and once in the chest with a
Wert and Watkins had been together the day of the shooting, Dickson said. Wert worked for Watkins, who owned
a mobile home repair service. Also, the two were neighbors as Watkins resided at 130 Moss Creek Road.
Wert’s attorney, Joe H. Byrd, Jr. of Jackson said in court during the bond hearing that Wert had never been
arrested previously and neither had he ever received as much as a traffic citation.
According to court records, Watkins was prohibited from owning a firearm.
Watkins had served time in the Carroll County Jail last year for reckless endangerment, and unlawful possession
of a weapon in an incident that involved his wife, Brittany Watkins.
Brittany Watkins, who divorced her husband last year, was in a relationship with Wert, according to a Facebook
posting that showed them together.