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Ex-Wildcat Guilty Of Homicide

Former Kentucky football player Jason Watts pleaded guilty today to two counts of reckless homicide stemming from the alcohol-related truck crash last year that killed a teammate and another young man.

Although he will not be sentenced until April 16, Watts asked to begin serving his sentence immediately and was to report to the Pulaski County jail later today.

Pulaski Commonwealth's Attorney Eddy Montgomery recommended a sentence of five years on each count to be served consecutively for a total of 10 years.

In a 10-minute appearance in Pulaski Circuit Court, Watts gave brief answers to Judge Daniel Venters, affirming that it was his free choice to plead guilty. Given an opportunity to make a public statement, Watts declined.

Watts had faced a July 19 trial on two counts of second-degree manslaughter and one of wanton endangerment in the wreck that killed teammate Arthur Steinmetz and Eastern Kentucky student Scott Brock.

Watts, a 21-year-old from Oviedo, Fla., was at the wheel early on the morning of Nov. 15 when his truck went out of control on U.S. 27 north of Somerset and overturned, killing Steinmetz, 19, and Brock, 21.

Steinmetz, who was from the northern Kentucky town of Edgewood, had transferred to Kentucky from Michigan State and was sitting out a year while waiting to become eligible.

Watts was severely injured in the crash and was dropped from the football team after authorities brought charges against him, saying his blood alcohol level was 1½ times the legal limit. Watts left school in the aftermath of the crash but has since returned and has been attending classes full-time.

Asked why his son had pleaded guilty, Watts' father, Jim, said, "It's best for everyone to try to get on with their lives. ... This is a sad, sad day for everyone."

Asked why he thought Watts had made the unusual request to begin his jail sentence immediately, Montgomery, the prosecutor, said, "I think it's part of he wants to take responsibility."

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