CALAIS – A 43-year-old Cherryfield man who allegedly eluded police over the weekend as he raced across the barrens of Washington County at speeds in excess of 100 mph made his first appearance in 4th District Court on Tuesday.
Timothy Watkins sat next to his attorney, Frank Cassidy of Machias, in a conference room at the Washington County jail, charged with eluding an officer.
Judge John Romei was in his courtroom in Calais for the second day that the court has used closed-circuit television to arraign prisoners.
Watkins’ brush with the law began early Sunday evening after a report of an alleged domestic dispute in Clifton.
According to an affidavit on file with the court, Maine State Police received radio traffic that Watkins was on Route 9 headed for his home in Cherryfield. “[He] was upset at his girlfriend, had a handgun and was chasing her … motor vehicle,” the affidavit said.
Police spotted Watkins turning onto Route 193, which runs from Deblois across the blueberry barrens to Cherryfield.
As soon as Trooper Miles Carpenter turned on his blue lights and siren, Watkins sped away and at one point was traveling at speeds in excess of 100 mph, the affidavit said.
The trooper called for backup, and other state police and Milbridge Police Department officers set up roadblocks with spike mats.
“[Watkins] drove through the first two roadblocks that the officers had set up and had some tires deflated by the spikes,” the affidavit said.
His vehicle started to lose speed and Watkins turned onto the Willey District Road near the end of Route 193, about 20 miles from where the chase began.
But Sgt. Jeff Ingemi, who was ahead of Watkins, had set up more spike mats. When Watkins’ tires hit the final spike mats, the car slowed. At one point, there were reports that Watkins’ car was running on its rims. Watkins ran from the car and Carpenter gave chase. “At this point, [Watkins] turned and appeared aggressive and wished to engage in fighting,” the affidavit said.
Officers were able to take Watkins to the ground and arrest him, the court documents said. Watkins told police that “he was chasing [the victim] because she was intoxicated and [he] got mad when he saw the blue lights.” He also told police he ran because he had been in a fight earlier in the evening.
The judge told Watkins that, if convicted, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Ben Dyer recommended that bail be set at $5,000 unsecured with conditions that Watkins have no contact with the victim, nor possess or use firearms. He also recommended that Watkins undergo alcohol and drug testing if demanded by an officer.
The judge also added the condition that Watkins not be allowed to drive.
“I can’t do that, I can’t do that, I need to work,” Watkins said. “I have two jobs – I have to work.”
“The court has a responsibility in setting bail,” the judge responded. “Not only to accommodate the defendant’s work schedule, but also to ensure public safety to the maximum extent possible.”
Unable to keep his two jobs, Watkins told the judge he would not be able to hire an attorney.
The judge told Watkins to fill out a request form for a court-appointed attorney.