The business partner of a Pennsylvania woman whose body was found buried two weeks after she went missing in January was convicted of murder Wednesday, the district attorney said.
A jury found Blair Watts guilty of first-degree murder and he was immediately sentenced to a mandatory term of life in prison, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said.
Watts, 33, was accused of killing Jennifer Brown, whose body was found in a shallow grave behind a warehouse in Royersford on Jan. 18.
Two weeks earlier, on Jan. 4, Watts asked police in Limerick Township to do a wellness check, saying he had been unable to reach Brown since Jan. 3, according to court documents.
“Justice was served for my niece, Jennifer Brown. It will never bring her back,” Brown’s aunt, Diane Brehm, said after the verdict, according to NBC Philadelphia. “But at least I know he will never walk out and hurt another family again the way he has destroyed ours.”
Watts pleaded not guilty and again Wednesday said he did not kill Brown, the mother of an 8-year-old.
“I didn’t kill Jennifer Brown,” he said after the verdict.
Brown and Watts were business partners in the planned reopening of the restaurant Birdie’s Kitchen, officials said.
Brown had planned to invest money in the restaurant, and the day before she was reported missing, two cash transfers totaling $17,000 were made to accounts controlled by Watts, prosecutors said when he was arrested and charged in February.
Police cadaver dogs found signs of human remains inside Brown’s home and in Watts’ car, according to prosecutors and court documents.
A medical examiner ruled that Brown's death was a homicide by unspecified means, according a criminal complaint. Three of her ribs were broken.
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele has said that her death was likely caused by “compression asphyxiation,” NBC Philadelphia reported.
Watts’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment made to his law firm Wednesday evening.