The Chester teen and the high school friend he hired in 2013 to have his grandparents killed because they were too strict were sentenced to 30 years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to the grandmother’s murder.
Clayton Eli Watts, 19, offered $10,000 to Chester High School classmate Marqueas Buchanan, 20, to kill Watts’ grandparents, Jimmie and Mack Paul. Watts claimed his grandparents, who had raised him since he was a baby, were too strict – demanding that he do his schoolwork, find a better group of friends, and do household chores.
Watts spent two years plotting the killing. He stole his grandparents’ guns to use against them before triggering the scheme in January 2013.
Jimmie Paul, 59, was “ambushed” and shot when she came home from work at the Chester County Clerk of Court office on Jan. 29, said Julie Gamburg Hall, the Sixth Circuit assistant solicitor who prosecuted the case. Mack Paul escaped being killed because he went into a garage behind the home before going in the house. He did not attend Wednesday’s hearing.
On Jan. 19, 2013, Buchanan brought in to the scheme a third man, Shaiderius Cohen, now 22, who pleaded guilty last month to being the shooter. Cohen will be sentenced Thursday and is expected to receive 30 years.
In court Wednesday, Buchanan cried as his pastor and grandmother spoke about how, before the crime, he was a helpful and decent person. Buchanan had no criminal record before the killing. He said his father had a stroke as police were interrogating him and he confessed to the crime.
Buchanan – nickname “Paco” tattooed on his neck – was a former Chester band member and aspiring rapper at the time he took part in the plot, for which he was never paid. Cohen, too, was never paid for the killing, and later sold the gun used to kill Jimmie Paul to buy marijuana.
In the two and a half years Buchanan has been in jail since his arrest, he has counseled other teens in Chester County’s Project STORM, a “Scared Straight”-type program aimed at keeping kids away from gangs, guns and violence.
“I want to apologize for my actions,” Buchanan told visiting Circuit Court Judge Dan Hall from York. “I want to apologize for my role in this tragedy.”
Defense lawyer Gary Lemel said Buchanan is an intelligent young man who thought the crime Watts planned would never happen. The planning of the killings was something “out of a video game,” Lemel said, that turned real and now has Buchanan facing the prospect of being in prison until he turns 50.
Watts pleaded guilty in April but was not sentenced until Wednesday when Buchanan, the last of the three involved in the crime, pleaded guilty. Watts said nothing about his grandparents’ raising him and showed no emotion.
“I know what I did was wrong,” Watts told Hall. “I am willing to accept my punishment.”
Watts initially claimed to police he was asleep in his bedroom when intruders killed his grandmother, but he later confessed, admitting he had planned to use $10,000 he expected to inherit from his grandparents to pay for the hit.
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065