A 19-year-old Compton man was convicted Monday of murdering a popular Compton grocer with a baseball bat last January while he was free pending sentencing on his guilty plea to kidnaping.
Leon Watts, who represented himself during the trial, was found guilty by a Compton Superior Court jury of first-degree murder and robbery in the death of Eddie Warren Adams, 60. Adams, who ran the A&A Meat Co. grocery store on Alondra Boulevard for 20 years, gave food to customers on credit, founded two Baptist churches and was an unsuccessful candidate for Compton city offices.
The prosecution presented testimony from two accomplices who were granted immunity. One, a male juvenile, said Watts hit Adams on the back of the head with the bat while the grocer was reaching into a display case for beer that Watts said he was picking up for his mother.
Adams had known Watts since he was an infant, Deputy Dist. Atty. Clayburn H. Peters said.
"That's why he (Adams) was probably off guard," he said.
Watts and his accomplices made off with $60 and two gold chains worth about $150.
Watts had been charged with kidnaping and rape in a separate case in December, 1984. However, in a plea bargain, prosecutors agreed to allow Watts to plead guilty to the kidnaping only. He was freed on his own recognizance until Jan. 30, the day after Adams' body was found.
Authorities arrested Watts on a tip from the mother of the second accomplice, a neighborhood girl who had been given $10 by Watts to serve as a lookout.