Kenneth Watson, a former standout football player at Hillsdale High, was unanimously found guilty by a 12-person jury of first-degree murder Wednesday in the 2002 shooting death of Damon Whitney.
The decision comes almost six years after Watson shot Whitney in Millbrae in retaliation for an earlier drug-money rip-off. Watson now faces life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
After the court clerk read verdict, Whitney’s family cried out and sobbed, while Watson and his family were stoic.
“I think the man above chose the right direction, and the district attorney followed it,” said Whitney’s father, Dennis Cheney, who said most people knew his son as Damon Cheney. “[Watson] has messed up my life, and left my granddaughter without a daddy.”
The jury also found Watson guilty on the special circumstance that he fired a gun from a moving vehicle.
On June 10, 2002, Whitney pulled into a friend’s driveway on Elder Drive in Millbrae shortly before midnight in anticipation of making a drug deal, Deputy District Attorney Steve Gallagher said. The friend heard several shots ring out.
Moments later, a bloody Whitney appeared at the door, Gallagher said. He walked into the apartment and splashed water on his face before collapsing and dying a short time later.
Watson’s attorney, Jeff Boyarsky, said he was disappointed in the verdict but declined to comment further Wednesday. The case returns to court March 12, when attorneys on both sides will discuss Watson’s prior criminal record and set a sentencing date.
Whitney left behind a wife and a daughter.
Examiner Staff Writer Tamara Barak Aparton contributed to this report.