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Jury selection begins for trial of Limerick man accused of killing woman who was his business partner

NORRISTOWN — The Limerick Township man accused of killing a township woman who reportedly was his business partner is in court this morning to select the jury that will decide his fate as his trial gets under way in Montgomery County Court.

Jury selection began Wednesday for the trial of Blair Anthony Watts, 33, of the 600 block of Hunsberger Drive, who faces charges of first- and third-degree murder, theft by unlawful taking or disposition and access device fraud in connection with the alleged Jan. 3, 2023, slaying of 43-year-old Jennifer Brown, who lived in the 1400 block of Stratford Court in Limerick Township.

Judge William R. Carpenter is selecting a jury of 12 and several alternates for the trial that is expected to last about six days.

Testimony from the first witnesses could begin as early as this afternoon.

First Assistant District Attorney Edward F. McCann Jr. and co-prosecutor Kelly S. Lloyd are handling the case. Philadelphia defense lawyer Michael Coard represents Watts.

Watts did not say anything to reporters or hint at his defense strategy as he was escorted by sheriff’s deputies to the courtroom.

Accused Limerick killer Blair Anthony Watts utters, "Innocent and sticking to it" as he's escorted from a pretrial hearing on Aug. 15, 2023. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. - MediaNews Group)
Accused Limerick killer Blair Anthony Watts utters, “Innocent and sticking to it” as he’s escorted from a pretrial hearing on Aug. 15, 2023. (Photo by Carl Hessler Jr. / MediaNews Group)

A conviction of first-degree murder, which is an intentional killing, carries a mandatory life prison term. Third-degree murder, a killing committed with malice, a hardness of heart or recklessness of consequences, carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison upon conviction.

Brown’s body was discovered by police shortly after 11 a.m. Jan. 18 in a “freshly dug hole” at the rear of a warehouse in the 200 block of North 5th Avenue in Royersford after they were alerted to the site by employees of the warehouse, according to a criminal complaint.

An autopsy determined Brown suffered three broken ribs. The cause of death was attributed to “homicide by unspecified means,” with compression and asphyxia, a mechanism that would account for the fractured ribs, authorities alleged.

The investigation began on Jan. 4 when Limerick police responded to Brown’s Stratford Court home to conduct a welfare check at the request of Watts, who told police he was a friend and business partner of Brown and had been unable to contact her, according to the criminal complaint filed by county Detective Mark Minzola and Limerick Detective Sergeant Paul Marchese.

The search for Brown captured local news headlines and the attention of the public for two weeks as police and relatives desperately searched for the woman before her body was discovered.

Watts’ lawyer is expected to argue that prosecutors have no direct evidence to link Watts to the murder and that the prosecution’s case is circumstantial.

But prosecutors have maintained there is a web of circumstantial evidence to link Watts to the crime.

Blair Watts has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Montgomery County mom Jennifer Brown. (Courtesy of Montgomery County district attorney's office)
Blair Watts has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Montgomery County mom Jennifer Brown. (Courtesy of Montgomery County district attorney’s office)

Authorities alleged Watts’ inconsistent statements, cellphone analysis and a cadaver dog’s signaling human remains or human biological material inside two vehicles used by Watts linked him to the murder.

Detectives alleged cellphone analysis showed that between 8:27 p.m. and 8:42 p.m. Jan. 5 Watts’ cellphone was in the vicinity of where Brown’s body was eventually discovered. Surveillance cameras in the area also depicted a grey Jeep Renegade vehicle linked to Watts “in this same exact area, during the same exact time frame,” detectives alleged.

Additionally, according to court documents, when detectives used a cadaver dog to search the floor mat behind the driver’s seat of the grey Jeep, the dog signaled human remains or human biological material had previously been in that location.

Additionally, a Jan. 8 search by a cadaver dog of a red Jeep Cherokee vehicle linked to Watts signaled human remains or biological material had previously been in the back seat area, according to the arrest affidavit.

On Jan. 6 detectives interviewed Watts, who according to testimony was married and also had a girlfriend who lived in Stowe, and at that time he described Brown as a close personal friend and business partner. Watts allegedly claimed Brown had a business relationship with a restaurant he planned to open, “Birdies Kitchen,” and that Brown would send him money every six weeks or so and had invested about $36,000 in their business. Watts, according to court papers, claimed Brown owed about $10,000 to fulfill her obligation.

When detectives analyzed the contents of Brown’s electronic devices they found two cash transfers totaling $17,000 to Watts between 4:23 p.m. and 4:35 p.m. on Jan. 3, according to court documents.

Detectives alleged that the $17,000 was never part of a written agreement between Brown and Watts. Authorities alleged that Brown was already dead when those money transfers occurred and that Watts made them using Brown’s computer tablet.

During the investigation, detectives determined that on Aug. 28, 2022, Brown entered into a business partnership agreement with Watts to invest money in Watts’ restaurant which they were planning to open in Phoenixville by the end of January 2023.

However, when detectives spoke to the owners of the property they learned that the owners had never signed a lease with Watts and no renovation work had been completed on the building by Watts to ready it for a restaurant, according to court documents.

Source: Berkshire mont

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