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Watkinses each get life sentence

WINCHESTER — Special Circuit Judge Gary Payne agreed with jurors and sentenced Patrick and Joy Watkins both to life in prison.

The couple was sentenced Thursday in Clark Circuit Court, exactly a month after a jury of eight women and four men ruled that they were guilty of murdering 10-year-old Michaela Watkins.

On Sept. 9, it took the jury about 40 minutes to recommend that both Patrick and Joy Watkins receive a life sentence — the maximum sentence — with the possibility of parole in 20 years.

Michaela's body was found severely bruised and burned March 11, 2007, at the Watkinses' apartment.

The girl had a total of 77 injuries — 35 of which were on her head. She had bite marks behind her ear and on her ankle. And a 4-inch-long bruise ran across her side that concealed the five crushed ribs that led to her death.

Michaela also had skin-peeling burns on the backs of her legs and buttocks.

On Thursday, Patrick and Joy Watkins — who were wearing navy and orange jumpsuits, respectively — stood before Payne as they waited to hear their sentences.

Patrick Watkins declined to say anything during the sentencing. However, Joy Watkins did.

"I don't think there will ever be a day that goes by when she's not in my thoughts," Joy Watkins said through a steady stream of tears.

Before sentencing, Payne told both Patrick and Joy Watkins, "She depended on you to take care of her and you didn't."

When Payne said he would impose the jury's recommendation, Michaela's mother, Rachel Adams, screamed "Yes!"

Afterward, Adams said it was difficult to listen to Joy Watkins during the sentencing. She said Joy Watkins' comments "made my blood boil, to put it lightly."

"Michaela was mine and will always be mine," she said.