Man charged with murdering prospective college student

Muskegon County

A booking photo of Jainautica Watkins. (Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office)

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A 19-year-old man earlier charged with lying to police investigating the shooting death of a Muskegon man is now charged with the victim’s murder.

Muskegon County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Tim Maat confirmed 19-year-old Jainautica Watkins was arraigned Friday on an open murder charge for the Aug. 25 death of Mervin Bonner Jr.

An undated courtesy photo of Mervin Bonner Jr.

Bonner, described by relatives as a straight-A student working for a business degree, was shot and killed the day before he was supposed to start classes at Muskegon Community College.

Muskegon police called to 7th Street near W. Grand Avenue found Bonner lying in the road with a gunshot wound to his head. The 18-year-old man died at the scene.

Mervin Bonner
Photos of Mervin Bonner at his mother’s home in Muskegon. (Aug. 26, 2019)

Last month, prosecutors charged Watkins, 17-year-old DeMarcus Franklin and Juan Bates with lying to a peace officer in a violent crime investigation in connection to the case. The alleged crimes happened at separate times during the investigation, beginning four days after the shooting and as recent as Sept. 6.

Watkins is also charged with carrying a concealed weapon and felony firearms. He’s due in court Thursday on the initial charge of lying to a peace officer. His next court hearing in the murder case is scheduled for Oct. 15.

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