Luther Bernard Watkins, the 20-year-old accused of shooting and killing a Tuscaloosa Police Officer last September, has filed a petition asking to be granted youthful offender status, which if granted would drastically reduce the sentence that could be carried out against him.

The youthful offender status can be granted to anyone who is under the age of 21 when they allegedly commit a crime, and when that designation is assigned, it does several important things.

Firstly, the accused forfeits their right to a jury trial, and are instead tried by a judge in a closed proceeding.

Secondly, the case would be sealed and all record of the charges and court proceedings would be inaccessible to anyone who is not directly involved in the case.

Finally, youthful offenders face significantly less severe sentences than they might otherwise, generally with a maximum of three years in prison.

Watkins filed the petition Thursday, January 16th, from the Tuscaloosa County Jail, where he is being held without bond on a capital murder charge. He is accused of shooting and killing TPD Investigator Dornell Cousette in September when the officer was attempting to serve a warrant.

Watkins turned 20 last July and is eligible for the designation by law, but the court is not obligated to grant it to him.

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