An 18-year-old North Carolina man pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday in a case that involved a failed robbery attempt, the Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson’s Office said in a release.
Leo Watkins, of Hendersonville, pleaded guilty to murder and attempted armed robbery for an incident that happened in October 2021. Watkins entered his plea before his trial was set to begin Wednesday, the release said.
Watkins was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder and a concurrent 20 years in prison for the attempted armed robbery. Watkins must serve that entire sentence and will not be eligible for parole.
Watkins was working with Katerena Bedjan, who had met the victim, Patrick Smith, 49, of North Carolina, a few days prior to the incident while she was auditioning to be an adult entertainer at Thee Dollhouse in North Myrtle Beach. She and the victim made an arrangement in which he was going to pay her to spend the weekend with him in Myrtle Beach.
At the same time, Bedjan was texting Watkins to let him know that the person she was spending the weekend with would have cash and should be an easy target for a robbery, the release said. Around 3 a.m. on Oct. 30, 2021, Bedjan texted Watkins that she and the victim were in her car outside the Sands Ocean Club Resort in Myrtle Beach.
Watkins arrived a short time later and approached the vehicle while armed with a 9 mm pistol. He then opened the door and attempted to take the victim’s wallet. When the victim refused, Watkins fired one shot, which led to the victim’s death.
Bedjan, 28, pleaded guilty in March to attempted armed robbery and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
During sentencing following the plea, several members of the victim’s family delivered powerful impact statements, the release said.