Accused drug dealer makes scene in Porter County court
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent June 11, 2012 5:38PM
Andrew Watts. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: June 11, 2012 9:28PM
VALPARAISO — About five minutes after Andrew Lee Watts, 34, told Porter Circuit Judge Mary Harper he didn’t want to make a mockery of Porter County Circuit Court, potential jurors came in, and Watts dropped to his knees, hands on his head, and begged to be taken back to Porter County Jail.
“Please get me out of here,” he said Monday morning, yelling.
Watts had just fired his public defender, Brian Truitt, the third public defender he’s had since his arrest a little more than a year ago, and he was taken back to jail.
After court security and jail guards removed Watts from the courtroom, Harper appointed Truitt to do jury selection.
Watts intended to represent himself Monday afternoon — with jury selection completed — but after Truitt argued for some motions to decide what evidence could be allowed, Watts relented to allow Truitt to continue as attorney because he didn’t understand what was being argued.
Watts faces a possible 80 years in prison on both a class A felony charge of dealing cocaine and a habitual offender enhancement.
With jury selection supposed to begin at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Harper first ruled that the crack cocaine in the case wouldn’t be excluded because the weight Porter County Drug Task Force agents had it at was about 2 grams, but the official weight from the laboratory was more than 3 grams, allowing the charge to be an A felony rather than the original B felony.
In opening statements, Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek sketched out the controlled drug deal that Task Force agents did in June 2011, with Watts allegedly waving at an officer watching the deal knowing it was police.
Then when Portage officers tried to pull the vehicle over for a traffic stop, Watts tried to take control of the car and push the driver out.
Truitt said most of what Polarek said is true, but the drugs’ weight is a fatal error in the case.
The trial is supposed to continue Wednesday and end on Thursday.