SAFFORD — The man acccused of killing his friend by shooting the man through a ballistic vest has been sentenced to probation
On May 7, Steven R. Watson pleaded guilty in Graham County Superior Court to negligent homicide — a class four non-dangerous and non-repetitive felony that carries sentences ranging from a mitigated minimum sentence of one year to an aggravated sentence of 3.75 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.
According to a February 2019 Graham County Sheriff’s Office news release, an investigation determined that Watson was one of three men shooting a rifle at a ballistic vest in a desert area north of Reay Lane Bridge on Feb. 11. A second man, 25-year-old Parker Ray Lynch, of Thatcher, reportedly put on the vest at one point and, with a ballistic plate in place, had one of the others shoot at it.
Evidence indicated it was Watson who fired the shot, which penetrated the vest and plate and struck Lynch. Lynch was later pronounced deceased during emergency surgery at Mount Graham Regional Medical Center. According to the news release, Watson was arrested and booked into the Graham County Jail on a manslaughter charge.
On Oct. 3, in Superior Court, Watson was sentenced to five years of standard supervised probation. Conditions of his probation included a year in the Graham County Jail, with credit for four days served and 331 days suspended. Watson was also given 30 days of flat time starting Oct. 7.
Watson was directed to report to a Graham County Probation officer upon his release and to complete 200 hours of community service, including 40 hours related to gun safety.