Suspect in apartment killing will argue self-defense

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — A Walled Lake man accused of killing his neighbor and storing the plastic-wrapped body in an apartment closet for several weeks is expected to plead self-defense.

Alex Adamowicz, 22, is charged with open murder in the stabbing death of John Watson, 51, who investigators believe was killed in April 2014 during an argument in the apartment complex where Watson lived in a unit in the floor above Adamowicz.

If convicted of first-degree murder, he would face mandatory life in prison without parole. To prove self-defense, he will be required to testify during the jury trial being supervised by Oakland Circuit Judge Michael Warren.

“My client acted in self-defense,” said Adamowicz’s attorney, Edward Bajoka. “He was attacked in his own apartment while the two of them were attempting to resolve their problems and the death resulted after he was attacked with a baseball bat. He had every right to defend himself. Afterwards, he panicked.”

The attorney said the pair had accused each other of being noisy, Bajoka said. He said Watson’s violent tendencies will come out during the trial and Adamowicz will tell his own version of events at some point.

On Tuesday, deputy Oakland County medical examiner Reuben Ortiz-Reyes told a jury of seven men and seven women that Watson had “big openings” in the neck, cuts on his wrist and abrasions on the forehead when he examined the badly decomposed body May 12, 2014, one day after it was discovered. Ortiz-Reyes said there was no evidence of defensive wounds on Watson’s body.

“(The wounds) suggest he was attacked from behind,” Ortiz-Reyes testified Tuesday, noting the cause of death was “multiple sharp injuries,” including a four-inch deep cut to the jugular.

“He would have died within seconds,” Ortiz-Reyes said of the cuts to the major artery in the throat.

Toxicology results also indicated Watson had small traces of a drug, fentanyl, in his system and had consumed marijuana and alcohol before his death.

Watson was found with $1.02 in his possession. A friend testified Watson’s apartment door was found unlocked and it had been ransacked.

Other occupants in the complex complained of smelling a foul odor for weeks before Adamowicz’s mother, visiting her son on May 11, Mother’s Day — also remarked of a strong smell inside Adamowicz’s apartment. After Adamowicz confessed to his mother that he had killed a man she convinced him to surrender to police.

Adamowicz — who had initially denied any knowledge of Watson’s whereabouts days before the grim discovery — later made statements to police that the stabbing took place while he was defending himself from Watson.

Assistant prosecutor Jason Pernick told jurors Adamowicz was guilty of deliberately killing and then storing Watson’s body in the apartment because he didn’t know how to dispose of it.

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