Joel Watts, the 28-year-old alleged attempted blackmailer of State Sen. Paul Stanley (R-Germantown), did his homework for the failed scheme by watching movies, according to the testimony of Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent Doug Long.
Audio of Monday's court hearings on the matter obtained today by NashvillePost.com and The City Paper detail how Watts attempted to blackmail Stanley over an alleged affair with a former intern in his legislative office, McKensie Morrison.
Watts was arrested April 9 behind a El Rey Azteca Mexican restaurant, after his scheme fell apart.
According to testimony, Watts first text messaged Stanley on April 8 at 6:55 a.m. and began his short career as a blackmailer. His first message to Stanley about Morrison, with whom he shares a residence, called her his "girlfriend," though at other times she is referred to as his "ex-girlfriend."
The text message read in Judge Dianne Turner's courtroom from Watts to Stanley stated, "Good morning sir, how are you this fine day. McKensie and I have been talking and I feel that I have a video and some pictures you might be interested in seeing. This is her boyfriend, that guy you met outside Walgreens. Contact me as [soon as] possible and have a splendid day."
Long testified that the pictures referred to and eventually obtained by the TBI showed Morrison "in a bedroom in provocative positions." While some of the photos were of Morrison clothed, in others, he testified, "you could see genitalia."
In subsequent text messages to Stanley from Watts, testimony reflects the demand for cash in exchange for the pictures and the inference that there is a mystery bidder.
At 6:40 p.m. on April 8, Watts wrote "News 5 independent reporter currently at 7500 do the math now report at."
The next message was sent almost an hour later that same day, at 7:34 p.m. Watts wrote, "10,000 small bills, 20's, sorry, anyways you will meet with a friend of mine, I have three different pre-loaded computers in three different locations. I check in three times tonight and throughout tomorrow, you will receive the disk and I will send you the email my word I love my ex girlfriend and her career i will destroy the rest I fail to report even once the email will be sent with info to reporter and your friends and coworkers. Be smart because I will take all of us down you have until 10 am to reply with cash in fist."
At 10:05 p.m., Watts writes, "Don't twist the knife, I have nothing to lose anymore, dont be late I have an appointment before 5 o clock."
Stanley's responses were terse and read aloud in court. He was apparently in the presence of TBI agents when he responded to all of the texts.
The next day, April 9, the messages from Watts begin at 11:55 a.m. with, "you ready?" The messages continue in succession:
• 12:14 p.m. – "You will see I will give you the main copy. I am not going to play with you. This will be fast and there will not be any words. You will trade with assurance that I will destroy the others. I will meet you on an entrance ramp towards Clarksville."
• 12:54 p.m. – "When I say that is all there it is done. When I get screwed it is done. I will be back from Franklin in 45 minutes I will decide then where you and him will meet."
(There was no other person that was going to meet Stanley.)
• 1:01 p.m. – "This is all geared towards ignorance, no hard feelings this is just business. I hate being f****d over."
• 1:08 p.m. – "There will be two other vehicles that will be watching for the pickup and drop. Exit 40 is as far as we go."
• 1:13 p.m. – "How long?"
• 1:21 p.m. – "Where are you? Text before you hit exit 40."
• 1:26 p.m. – "Hello."
• 1:32 p.m. – "Why is she telling me you are done I play no more how long until you reach exit 40 and well that is going to change now to how long."
• 1:42 p.m. – "Sounds like your playing hands."
• 2:45 p.m. – "Sounds like games. May need a big box to clean out your desk. If anyone sees you make anything funny I will take the other bid and not think twice. You s**t on people but we are watching as well. I am getting tired."
• 2:56 p.m. – "How much longer Paul? I have things to do. She is sacred, leave her out of this for now."
• 3:02 p.m. – "Paul, how much longer till you reach exit 40."
• 3:10 p.m. – "What car are you in and color?"
• 3:16 p.m. – "What, you made the f*****g pictures I made the video."
During the court hearing, Watts' attorney, Jennifer Hall of the Public Defender's office, asked Stanley if he had been in a sexual relationship with Morrison. The prosecution objected relevance and Judge Turner sustained.
Stanley did state before the court when asked about the amount of money requested in the blackmail scheme, "I don't negotiate with criminals. He demanded that amount; that is why I am here today."