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January 7, 2013

Murder suspect’s trial begins this week

Wood faces life in prison

By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer

PONTIAC — The trial for the suspect accused of murdering an 80-year-old Royal Oak resident was set to begin Jan. 7 in Oakland County Circuit Court.

Parole absconder Alan Wood, 49, was set to begin his trial Monday for allegedly murdering resident Nancy Dailey. Wood is accused of slitting Dailey’s throat Nov. 20, 2011, after he and former lover Tonia Watson, 41, attempted to rob Dailey at her house on Trafford. Among other charges, Wood faces life in prison without parole, if found guilty of first-degree murder.

Watson, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Dec. 21, 2012, in order to get her primary charge reduced from first-degree murder, will be sentenced by Judge Colleen O’Brien Jan. 29. Watson, who confessed to police Nov. 23, 2011, will testify against Wood during this month’s trial.

“We’re looking at well over 20 (years),” Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper said of Watson’s potential sentence, despite the plea deal. “If (Wood) is found guilty, he’d face life without parole.”

Wood and Watson were going to have one trial with two separate juries, where one jury leaves the room during Watson’s testimony against Wood, so as to not hold that information against Watson, but that plan is no longer necessary, as only Wood is standing trial now.

“There are things that would be admissible for one client and not admissible for another client,” Cooper explained of why a two-jury system would have been needed.

Among the charges both suspects face are financial transaction device and larceny in a building, both stemming from stolen credit cards. Wood is accused of premeditated homicide, while Watson faces being a subject to a fourth offense, which means it is her fourth strike in court. In all, Wood is up against five charges and Watson pleaded guilty to four charges.

Michael McCarthy, who is Watson’s defense attorney, did not return messages by press deadline. Elias Escobedo, who is Wood’s defense attorney, was unavailable for comment by press deadline.

McCarthy and Escobedo have been busy at work building their defenses, as the validity of Wood’s DNA found under Dailey’s fingernails was questioned by Escobedo in a Sept. 27, 2012, hearing, and the possibility that Watson’s Nov. 23, 2011, confession was coerced by police was debated by McCarthy in a Dec. 12, 2012, hearing. Both pieces of evidence were upheld by O’Brien and are expected to be included in this week’s trial.

Oakland County Circuit Court is located at 1200 N. Telegraph in Pontiac.

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