Defendant gets new legal representation in vehicular homicide case in Clinton County

By John Hamilton - [email protected]

WILMINGTON — A suspect in a deadly vehicular accident is to get new legal representation.

On Friday in Clinton County Common Pleas Court, Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck approved a motion by the defense attorney to withdraw after Thomas Watkins wished to “fire” his lawyer — Owen Kalis.

“(Watkins) claims his parents retained former defense counsel Kalis and defendant may personally be unable to retain private counsel,” court documents say. The Clinton County Public Defender has been appointed in Kalis’ place.

Watkins, 52, who is currently incarcerated, was arraigned in February on two counts of alleged aggravated vehicular homicide — felony 1 and 2, respectively; and one count of alleged operating a vehicle while under the influence and driving under suspension — each a misdemeanor 1 charge.

Watkins has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The charges stem from a wreck in July that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Douglas Ross III of Blanchester.

According to the accident report from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Watkins was driving northeast on Shawnee Trace Road in Blanchester/Marion Township with Ross in the passenger seat. Watkins drove off the roadway to the left, struck a ditch, and overturned into a soybean field.

Ross was ejected from the vehicle and was transported to UC Medical Center in Cincinnati via CareFlight. Ross died of his injuries three days later.

The report describes Watkins as having “glassy bloodshot eyes and appeared to be impaired” and “Watkins had a rigid body posture and was very fidgety.”

Watkins admitted to using meth earlier in the day, according to the report. Watkins initially said someone else was driving but later said he was the operator.

Watkins’ next hearing is on June 2.

By John Hamilton

[email protected]

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.