6 sentenced in 2016 Carson City murder
Tears were shed and tensions were high Monday as the defendants in the Grant Watkins murder were sentenced for their involvement in the death of the 18-year-old Carson City man.
Reed Skenandore, Jonathan Skenandore, Jacob Huttman, Jesus Garcia-Manriquez, Keenan Blackmore, and Daniel Lease — all between the ages of 19 and 22 when the murder occurred — were sentenced Monday for the 2016 murder.
Reed Skenandore was sentenced to life in prison with the eligibility of parole after 20 years for first-degree murder and six years in prison with the possibility of parole after a year for conspiracy to commit robbery to run consecutively. Huttman and Jonathan Skenandore each were sentenced to 25 years in prison with the eligibility of parole after 10 years for second-degree murder and four years in prison with eligibility for parole after a year for conspiracy to commit robbery to run concurrently. Jesus was sentenced to 25 years in prison with the eligibility of parole after 10 years for second-degree murder. Blackmore and Lease were each granted probation for three years.
Watkins died after being shot in the abdomen on Jan. 11, 2016, during a drug deal-turned-robbery. Watkins was meeting Reed Skenandore, Garcia-Manriquez, Jonathan Skenandore and Huttman around 12:30 a.m. at Blackwell Pond Park to sell the men three ounces of marijuana when Reed Skenandore shot Watkins.
Daniel Lease helped Reed Skenandore dispose of the firearms and clothing used that night.
The gunman, Reed Skenandore, pleaded guilty to felony first-degree murder and felony conspiracy to commit robbery. Garcia-Manriquez, Huttman and Jonathan Skenandore entered guilty pleas to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery. Blackmore and Lease were both charged with accessory to murder.
All six defendants pleaded guilty to the charges in March.
Monday, Assistant District Attorney Kristin Luis and Deputy District Attorney Orrin Johnson presented for the state. Luis told District Court Judge James Wilson step by step what happened before, during and after that night.
The state was requesting that the defendants’ charges run consecutively and with the maximum sentence.
“It was a pre-planned robbery and someone died,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t wrong place, wrong time like people are trying to say. No, it wasn’t an accident. It was a place and time of their choosing and as a result Grant Watkins died. That is what this is.”
The DA also argued and said the men deserved the highest sentencing because it would lower the community’s risk if they were kept in prison.
“Who will he be when he gets that first look at parole? Who will he be in 20 years when he gets out? These are questions we need to look at,” Johnson said. “Will the culture of prison mature (them) to where we can trust (them)?… But if he chooses to continue this lifestyle, then the community is at risk.”
Across the board, the defense attorneys’ arguments were similar; no one intended for Watkins to die that night.
“No one went to (Skenandore’s) apartment with the idea that they were going to plot a robbery when this started, but as the party went on, the plan was hatched,” said Reed’s lawyer, Ben Walker. “In that split second that Reed made the decision to shoot, he was probably panicked and thought ‘I need to protect myself.’ He didn’t go there to shoot someone but because he had a firearm; it’s what happened.”
The defense also tried to argue that the six are just children, thus not capable of making rational and appropriate decisions.
“Due to the brain delay in children, they don’t make what we consider the ‘right’ decision,” said Huttman’s lawyer, Theresa Ristenpart.
The court also held a closed hearing for nearly two hours Monday afternoon to discuss Blackmore, Garcia-Manriquez and Lease’s involvement.
“Sometimes there are competing interests and in this case the constitutional interests of the defendants trumped other interests,” Wilson said.
Wilson also allowed the defendants the option to speak in court. Huttman, Garcia-Manriquez, Blackmore and Lease apologized to the Watkins family, expressing remorse for their actions.
“I want the victim’s family to know I am sorry and if I could go back and change it I would,” Garcia-Manriquez said. “I am going to use this as an opportunity to better myself.”
“I am sorry for your loss and I take full responsibility for my actions in this,” Lease added.
Before Wilson made his decision, Watkins’s father, Greg, provided a victim impact statement.
“This has been a tremendous loss for our family, Grant was a great kid and he never had a bad thing for anyone, I didn’t think he had any enemies,” Greg said. “He didn’t deserve what happened to him and we didn’t deserve what happened to us. And now he is gone… we miss him so much.”
He also directly addressed the men being sentenced in between sobs.
“I can never forgive you for what you have done to him, to us,” Greg said. “And over some weed. What were you guys thinking? …I hope you can live with yourselves, you tore our family apart and your own families apart.”
Wilson said that when making his decision, he took into account their age, culpability, lack of adult criminal records and other factors.
Allen Garcia-Manriquez, also charged in the case, has had his case sent back to the Justice Court, where he’s expected to enter a guilty plea to two misdemeanor charges.