Former Madison County Sheriff’s deputy to plead guilty in motorist beating case

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) --  Former Madison County Sheriff’s deputy Justin Watson will plead guilty in connection to the beating of a motorist, court records show.

A hearing is set for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre.

Watson was indicted in July and charged with assaulting motorist Robert Bryant while on duty, unlawfully detaining Bryant, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice in the subsequent federal investigation of the incident.

The encounter that left Bryant badly injured occurred in August 2012.  Bryant was originally charged with assaulting Watson.

The indictment says Watson misled a state court judge while testifying in a hearing where he denied recognizing Bryant and having had a fight with him at a Madison County bar. Watson was also charged with trying to intimidate a witness to prevent him from discussing Watson's fight with Bryant and his subsequent efforts to track him down.

Bryant was arrested during a traffic stop weeks after being involved in the bar fight.  Bryant accused seven deputies of beating him or watching him being punched and kicked while unconscious and handcuffed at the side of the road.

Bryant later sued Watson, Sheriff Blake Dorning and other deputies and received a $625,000 settlement from Madison County.

Watson, a deputy since December 2008, resigned in April 2015.