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Motive in Cedar Grove shooting is still a mystery

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The motive for the Jan. 14 murder of a Cedar Grove man is turning out to be somewhat of a mystery, according to Carroll County Sheriff Andy Dickson.

Joseph Wert

Larry Gene Watkins, Jr., 46, died of gunshot wounds around 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Joseph Wert, 21, of Cedar Grove has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of his neighbor that lived less than a half-mile away. Watkins lived at 130 Moss Creek Road and Wert resided at 660 Moss Creek Road. This road is in rural Carroll County, off state highway 220 which leads off state highway 70.

“It’s just strange that they would work together all day and then the shooting takes place,” said the sheriff.

Dickson said Watkins was a contractor who did repairs to mobile homes and that Wert was his employee. They had just finished the day working together as they did regularly.

According to the warrant filed against Wert, the murder was premeditated.

The shooting occurred at Wert’s residence where he lived with his father and mother, the sheriff said.

Watkins’ body has been sent to the state medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.

The sheriff’s department received a call at 4:56 p.m. Tuesday from Wert’s mother, Susan, concerning the shooting. In the background, the sheriff’s department dispatcher heard Wert admit to shooting Watkins. Later, during the investigation, Wert admitted to deputies that he shot Watkins.

Watkins was shot twice, the sheriff said.

Wert was booked in the Carroll County Jail at 12:04 a.m. on Jan. 15. On Jan. 16 he appeared before Judge Larry Logan for arraignment with the judge ordering him to be held without bond in the Carroll County Jail. A bond hearing was set for Jan. 29 at 9 a.m. Jackson attorney Joe Byrd has been hired to represent Wert.

According to sources, Wert and Watkins’ ex-wife, who is believed to be living in Obion County, had been in a relationship at one time. Watkins and his wife were divorced last year on Oct. 15.

Watkins served time in the Carroll County Jail last year on charges of reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a weapon from an incident that occurred on Jan. 15, 2019 at his Cedar Grove residence. The indictment says he recklessly engaged in conduct which placed his wife, Brittany Watkins, in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury, by the reckless use of a deadly weapon, a 12- gauge shotgun.

 The sheriff says if anyone has a video on the Moss Creek Road from that day that has a white 150 pickup pulling a trailer in it to please contact the jail at 986-8947.

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