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Press Release

Jury Convicts Independence Man Following Home Invasion

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri
Guilty of Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – An Independence, Mo., man has been convicted by a federal trial jury of illegally possessing the firearm he used in a home invasion robbery.

Theodore Watkins Jr., 32, was found guilty on Tuesday, Nov. 1, of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Independence police officers were called to a residence at 11:25 a.m. on May 12 by a neighbor who reported that he saw Watkins push his way into the residence of an elderly woman. The caller said they thought they observed something in the man’s hand when he forced entry.

Officers arrived at the residence and established a perimeter. A SWAT unit and hostage negotiators also arrived, and after making announcements on the loudspeaker, the victim came out of the residence through the front door. A short time later, Watkins came out of the residence and was taken into custody.

The victim, who was visibly shaken and had bruising on her right arm, told investigators that Watkins originally came to her door and offered to mow her lawn. He came back a few minutes later, she said, and forced the door open, forcing his way into the residence. Watkins pointed a loaded Sig Sauer 9mm handgun at her and said, “Where’s the money?”

Watkins dumped out her purse and took the money from it, then began going through her dresser drawers, closets, and other areas of the house. He used her cordless phone and her cell phone to make calls, including a call to his wife. At one point, while he was on the phone telling his wife to come and pick him up, he asked the victim for her address.

When police arrived, Watkins told the victim to tell officers they were friends and he was helping her do yard work. Watkins threatened that, if she didn’t, he would have his friends come back and kill her. Watkins hid his gun in a furnace return air vent in the bedroom. Police officers found the firearm when they searched the house.

Under federal law, it is illegal for anyone who has been convicted of a felony to be in possession of any firearm or ammunition. Watkins has two prior felony convictions for robbery, two prior felony convictions for burglary, two prior felony convictions for armed criminal action, and prior felony convictions for drug trafficking, kidnapping, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Following the presentation of evidence, the jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., deliberated for about an hour and 15 minutes before returning a guilty verdict to U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark, ending a trial that began Monday, Oct. 31.

Under federal statutes, Watkins is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stefan C. Hughes. It was investigated by the Independence, Mo., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Project Safe Neighborhoods

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

Updated November 2, 2022

Project Safe Neighborhoods