Independence Man Sentenced for Kidnapping
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – An Independence, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a kidnapping conspiracy.
Justin D. Watson, 23, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to eight years in federal prison without parole.
On Nov. 17, 2017, Watson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Watson admitted that he and his co-conspirators kidnapped a victim identified as “N.J.” in March 2017.
Watson was arrested on March 14, 2017, after being stopped by Kansas City, Mo., police officers while driving the kidnapping victim’s Ford Fusion. Watson admitted that he had also driven the vehicle, with the victim in the front passenger seat and two co-conspirators in the back seat, from Kansas City to Colorado on March 11, 2017.
Watson drove west on I-70 toward Colorado, during which time conspirators used the victim’s credit card to withdraw $1,200 from an ATM in a Kansas truck stop. They also stopped at a sporting goods store in Hays, Kan., and purchased high-end athletic shoes using the victim’s credit card.
During the drive westward, conspirators discussed killing the victim. They stopped the vehicle near Russell, Kan., pulled off in a field and told the victim to get out of the car. While Watson held the gun, a co-conspirator tied the victim up and gagged him. The conspirators returned to the car and drove away, leaving the victim in the field. After the kidnappers left, he was able to remove his bindings and made his way to the Russell Police Department.
The conspirators got a room at a motel. Watson was asked to get some items from the local Walmart, but instead drove back to Kansas City.
According to court documents, when Watson originally arrived at a Kansas City, Mo., residence on the morning of March 11, 2017, there were two victims (a man and a woman) seated in chairs in the living room. Both victims had been tied to a pole in the basement with zip ties, rope and electrical wire for several hours. Duct tape was placed over the female victim’s mouth, and the two victims were punched, slapped, kicked and threatened with death. At one point they were forced into the trunk of a car for several hours, then led back into the house.
The female victim begged to go to the hospital, according to court documents, and two co-conspirators dropped her off at Truman Medical Center later the same day.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Marquez. It was investigated by the FBI and the Independence, Mo., Police Department.