The jury returned a guilty verdict in the Peter Watts case on March 19 reports the Port Huron Times Standard:
Toronto author Peter Watts has been found guilty of assaulting, resisting and obstructing a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.
Jurors returned the verdict today in St. Clair County Circuit Judge James Adair’s courtroom. He faces up to two years in prison when sentenced April 26.
Court records show that in the meantime the judge has continued Watts’ bond and he remains free pending sentencing. His case has been referred to the probation department for a report. And the court will review the prosecution’s request for an enhanced sentence under Michigan’s habitual offender statute.
According to the Michigan Department of Corrections, “in Michigan anyone convicted of more than one felony can have his or her sentence lengthened if requested by the prosecutor and agreed to by the court. Prisoners serving under the habitual offender statute cannot be paroled prior to their calendar minimum.”
The news coverage from the case hasn’t made it clear whether this law is being invoked based on the multiple felony charges from the border-crossing case or a previous conviction.
Peter Watts has posted detailed comments about the trial and verdict on his blog. He analyzes the statute the jury had to work with and the factual questions they had to resolve, then concludes:
Whether that’s actual noncompliance or simply slow compliance is, I suspect, what the jury had to decide. That’s what they did, and while I think they made the wrong decision I’m obviously not the most impartial attendee at this party. I still maintain I did nothing wrong; but as far as I can tell the trial was fair, and I will abide by its outcome.
Update 3/19/2010: Added link to Peter Watts’ comments about the trial and verdict.