Justin Daniel Watts was arrested shortly after the January 2019 incident, where a responding Madison Police Department officer initially heard that Martez Jermain Haynes, 34, allegedly shot himself while the van was driving eastbound on I-565 just before Zierdt Rd.
That officer then reported that he saw Watts with a gun. Investigators said the officer drew his weapon and asked the offender to drop it, which he did.
According to the Huntsville Police Department (HPD), Watts then told officers on scene that he “shot the man” and “wanted a lawyer.”
None of the other passengers in the van witnessed the incident, as authorities said the shooting happened behind them, in the backseat. They were able to tell police that they all worked for a cleaning company out of Birmingham.
According to HPD, the passengers said they heard the gunshot – and then Watts stated that the victim had shot himself. They called 911 and pulled over on the side of I-565.
Haynes was taken to the hospital, but authorities confirmed he died later that night. Court documents say Watts used a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson pistol.
“There was no argument,” explained HPD’s Lt. Johnson. “None of the witnesses have said there was any altercation or disagreement or anything. We have no motive at all…I think altogether we are very lucky this individual didn’t shoot anyone else in the van.”
Watts was indicted on August 3 but was released from jail on April 12, 2019, on a $50,000 bond.
According to court records, a status conference has been set for December 1, with a jury trial slated for January 22, 2024.