The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

January 17, 2013

Appeal denied in 2006 murder case

By BRAD KELLAR
Herald-Banner Staff

— The state’s highest criminal court has refused to consider the appeal sought by a Dallas County man, convicted of murder more than six years ago for the brutal beating death of a Greenville resident during an armed robbery.

Travis Lynn Watson of Dallas was sentenced in September 2006 to 55 years in prison for the murder of Walter Lee Byrd Neal.

Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Watson’s writ of habeas corpus without issuing a written order.

Watson was facing a sentence of up to life in prison, after pleading guilty to one count of murder in connection with the attack, in which a second victim was seriously injured.

Watson will have to serve half of his sentence of 27 and one-half years in prison before he will be eligible to be considered for parole.

Watson had originally been indicted for both capital murder and aggravated robbery.

Watson later waived his right to a jury trial and entered the guilty plea to a reduced charge of first degree murder, with no agreement as to the potential punishment.

Watson pleaded guilty to being a party in Neal’s death and admitted guilt for the robbery.

Watson had been on the run for 17 months before being caught on Nov. 19, 2004 by the U.S. Marshal’s Service at a college for data entry clerks and beauticians in Baton Rouge, La.

Prosecutors had previously announced they would be seeking the death penalty in the case, should Watson be convicted of capital murder.

Watson’s co-actor, Lavace Durell Morgan of Farmersville, entered a plea of guilty in January, 2005 to a lesser charge of murder, agreed to testify against Watson and received a sentence of life in prison.

The indictments accuse Watson and Morgan of using a knife, hammer and/or their fists and feet to attack Neal and another man during a June 5, 2003 robbery.