Joey Watkins’ habeas motion granted, allows motion for new trial


After 21 years, a Walker County Superior Court judge has granted a writ of habeas corpus for Joey Watkins, who was convicted of murdering Isaac Dawkins near Georgia Highlands College in Rome.

“Despite scientific and common sense evidence of innocence and clear official misconduct, Joey Watkins has been imprisoned for more than half his life for a crime he did not commit,” said Clare Gilbert, executive director of the Georgia Innocence Project. “After years of setbacks, we are delighted with Judge Thompson’s swift decision to grant Joey’s habeas petition. It is now up to Georgia prosecutors to follow the lead of the courts in demonstrating accountability, admitting error and finally by correcting this injustice once and for all.No one is safer anymore by keeping the wrong person in prison.

Watkins was convicted of shooting Dawkins in 2000. He and another man were arrested nearly 10 months after the shooting, and Watkins was later convicted. Watkins’ co-accused was tried separately and acquitted of all charges.

Watkins unsuccessfully appealed his conviction several times. In 2017, attorneys for the Georgia Innocence Project filed a civil petition — called habeas corpus — to have his conviction overturned.

According to the order issued Monday, Watkins’ due process rights and right to confront witnesses were violated when a juror conducted an unauthorized driving test and released his results to other jurors, prosecutors failed to correct false or misleading testimony and prosecutors failed to disclose evidence.

This week’s motion now allows for a new trial for Watkins.

You can read the command HERE.

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