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January 18, 2013

Man found guilty in murder of 80-year-old Royal Oak resident

Wood to be sentenced Feb. 15, Watson Jan. 29

By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer

As the door was shutting behind Alan C. Wood, the courtroom burst into applause Thursday afternoon.

Wood, 49, had just been found guilty of five charges, with the foremost two being felony murder and the premeditated, first-degree murder of Royal Oak resident Nancy Dailey, 80, on Nov. 20, 2011, at her house on Trafford.

Those applauding throughout Judge Colleen O’Brien’s Oakland County Circuit Court room Jan. 17 were Dailey’s friends and family, including some who had driven from as far as Savannah, Ga., to watch Wood’s trial.

Sentencing was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 15, as Wood now faces life in prison without parole.

Former lover and former co-defendant Tonia M. Watson, 41, faces sentencing Jan. 29 for her Dec. 21, 2012, guilty plea of second-degree murder, which will carry a sentence of at least 23 years in prison.

“It might as well be life for me, though,” Watson said. “I’m 41 years old. It’s just as good as life.”

It was Watson’s Nov. 23, 2011, interview with police and Jan. 14, 2013, testimony in court that painted a picture of the gruesome day and helped keep Wood behind bars.

“He continued to try to break her neck. The next thing he told me was that he cut her throat,” Watson said. “It’s a nightmare and it all happened so fast. He stomped up and down on the back of her head, trying to break her neck. He said (the knife) wouldn’t cut at first and he had to stab her in (the throat).”

Wood and Watson were parole absconders with lengthy criminal histories. Each had drug habits and were doing random jobs to help fund those habits while they stayed in local motels, according to testimony. The duo had done $40 of yard work for Dailey in the days prior to their return to her house on Trafford, where she was killed as they stole her credit cards and cellphone.

“I didn’t kill her. He did. I really didn’t want to, but I loved him and wanted to be with him,” Watson said. “She said, ‘Don’t,’ and after he really hit her, she couldn’t make any more sounds. I was scared to tell him to stop because I was scared he’d kill me. I never touched her.”

Dailey was found with her hands bound by a blue scarf, which video surveillance from a nearby fast food restaurant showed around Wood’s neck earlier on the day of the murder. Wood’s DNA was found both on the scarf and under Dailey’s fingernails.

Prior to the trial’s Jan. 7 start, defense attorneys tried to keep both the DNA results and Watson’s prior video-recorded interview with police from being used as evidence. In court Jan. 14, defense attorney Elias Escobedo attempted to discredit Watson’s testimony with a discussion of her mental health history and drug use.

Watson has been prescribed five psychotropic medications since 2004. About one month prior to Dailey’s murder, according to Watson’s testimony, Watson stopped taking her medications and was instead self-medicating with both heroin and crack cocaine. She said the habit cost her about $200 per day, plus the cost of Wood’s marijuana addiction.

“He bought drugs for himself also,” Watson said. “He would buy things that we needed, not just always drugs. At the time of the incident, I was not taking my medication at all.”

Watson said last week that she still loved Wood.

“I would have preferred for him to have a regular job,” Watson said. “He was just my everything. He was all that I knew at the time. He was my best friend. He was my everything.”

Despite clarifying that she never blacks out or forgets anything during either drug use or withdrawal periods, Watson made one slip during some questioning from Escobedo.

“Things have to be pretty difficult for you to remember, because you were strung out on heroin,” Escobedo said, to which Watson replied, “Yeah, I guess.”

But apparently the evidence was too much and the differences between Watson’s 2011 and 2013 stories were too small, as prosecutor Tricia Dare pieced things together for the 14-person jury, of which 12, including seven men and five women, were randomly selected to make the unanimous choice to convict Wood after two-and-a-half hours of deliberations.

The Jan. 29 and Feb. 15 sentencings will take place in Courtroom 2A of the Oakland County Circuit Court at 1200 N. Telegraph in Pontiac.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Chris Jackett at cjackett@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1110.