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Jurors see video of girl's shooting 2:26 PM CDT

Profile image for By Donna Fielder / Staff Writer
By Donna Fielder / Staff Writer

In the video, Duke Watrous' 9-year-old son bends over his big sister as she lies mortally wounded on a dining room table.

"Stay with me, Ashley," the boy pleads, as she mews and chokes to death on her own blood.

In the background, a Christmas program is airing on TV in the house on Naylor Road.

Moments earlier, "Joy to the World" had been playing as Duke Watrous lined two of his children up to give them a lesson on handling guns.

"Does that scare you? Are you scared?" he drunkenly asks the 10-year-old girl as he tracks her movements with a shotgun and rubs it on her face and shoulder.

Then he picks up a .44-magnum revolver, and after the merrymakers on TV intone "Merry Christmas," he accidentally fires it. The bullet enters Ashley's face, exits the back of her head, speeds through walls and stops in a cupboard.

In the video, Watrous picks up the little girl and places her on the table before leaving her to gather the weapons and hide them in a gun safe in a closet. He slips in a pool of her blood as he comes back and bends over his little girl.

"Ashley can you hear me?" he asks. Then, "Ashley's dead."

Duke Watrous installed video cameras in his house to show Child Protective Services workers what a good father he was, should they decide to investigate him again after custody troubles with both his first and second wives over the five children he fathered.

Instead, the video of Christmas Eve 2009 captured his daylong drinking spree and the consequences his children suffered about 8:30 that night.

Jurors watched the video this morning as part of evidence in the punishment phase of his trial for manslaughter. On Monday just before jury selection started in the trial, Watrous pleaded guilty to manslaughter and asked to have the jury assess punishment.

Prosecutor Rick Daniel introduced the evidence with the testimony of Texas Ranger Tracy Murphree, who was called in to help Oak Point police with the investigation. He was home with his own children that night, he said, when he got the call.

Defense attorney J.T. Borah told the jury in opening statements that he would bring witnesses to show jurors how Watrous was raised, circumstances Borah said that contributed to the tragedy. He had full custody of his three children with wife Brandy Washburn and shared custody with a second wife, who left him for another man. The officers had been called to the house because he was accused of slapping one of his sons. He didn't trust the Oak Point officers after that contact, Borah said, and he installed the video cameras.

"And the worst moment of his life is caught on video," Borah said.

DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is