Beasley sentenced to maximum imprisonment for death of Layla Watson

Published 11:18 am Thursday, November 2, 2023

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A Covington County man who was found guilty earlier this year in the 2021 shooting death of 17-year-old Layla Rebecca Watson was sentenced this week.

Layla Watson

Damien Lashawn Beasley, 19, of Andalusia was convicted by a Covington County jury on charges of manslaughter, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with physical evidence. This week, presiding Circuit Court Judge Charles “Lex” Short sentenced Beasley to the maximum possible sentences, including 20 years imprisonment for manslaughter, up to 10 years for abuse of a corpse, and up to one year for tampering with evidence. Short ordered those sentences to run consecutively for a total prison term of 31 years, the maximum allowed under Alabama law. Beasley was also ordered to pay restitution for Watson’s funeral and burial expenses in the amount of $15,790, fines totaling $51,000, and a $10,000 assessment to the Alabama Victims’ Compensation Fund.

During the August trial, the jury heard evidence that after shooting Layla, Beasley dragged her body through the woods in an attempt to hide her and that he also hid the shotgun that killed her. At the sentencing hearing, Layla’s mother, Marcie Watson, read a letter she had written about the loss of her oldest daughter. In it, she said, “her littlest sister has to go to the graveyard after every game to hug a cold headstone instead of a warm body.”

Beasley was represented by Gulf Shores attorney Riley Powell.

The state was represented by District Attorney Walt Merrell and Chief Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter.

“So many people worked together seeking justice for Layla and I hope that Beasley’s convictions and sentences bring her family and friends closure. They remain in our prayers,” Jeter said.

Merrell added that he hopes the community takes notice of this case and conviction.

“Not all parents are teaching their kids true facts of life. In real life, not everyone gets a trophy and there is real accountability. We are going to hold people accountable and that means prison,” Merrell said.