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Robberies suspect faces new charges

YORK -- The 20-year-old man police say has confessed to seven robberies was formally charged Wednesday in the Feb. 5 double shooting of former Fort Mill Mayor Charlie Powers and clerk Yen Nguyen at a downtown Fort Mill convenience store.

Authorities charged Phillip Fleming Watts Jr., whose last known address was a dormitory at Clinton Junior College in Rock Hill, with two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill; kidnapping; possession of a weapon during a violent crime and armed robbery, said Capt. Bryan Zachary said of the Fort Mill Police Department. The charges stem from an armed robbery and shooting at John Boy's Valero on Spratt Street in downtown Fort Mill.

A bond hearing is slated for today, Zachary said.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Judge Dick Watkins on Tuesday night denied bond for Watts in connection with last week's shooting of Ida Neal Lord at Cash on the Spot in Rock Hill.

Armed with a handgun, Watts forcibly took more than $1,000 and shot Powers and Nguyen during a robbery at John Boy's, according to arrest warrants. Powers was shot in the face. He was released the next morning from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Nguyen was shot in the stomach. She was listed in good condition Wednesday at CMC, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Shooting victim back in critical condition>

Watts had been in custody since Monday in connection with last week's shooting and attempted armed robbery at Cash on the Spot on South Cherry Road.

During that incident, police say Watts shot Lord in the head as he held her during an attempted armed robbery. In addition, Lord was shot in the torso with a handgun, arrest warrants state.

Lord was in critical condition Wednesday night at CMC, a hospital spokeswoman said. Earlier in the day, Lord was listed in serious condition.

In the incident at Cash on the Spot, police charged Watts with assault and battery with intent to kill; kidnapping; attempted armed robbery and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, according to warrants.

Authorities had not charged Watts on Wednesday in the five other robberies at Rock Hill convenience stores that police say he has confessed to. However, officials expect to serve multiple warrants against Watts by Friday, said Lt. Jerry Waldrop of the Rock Hill Police Department.

In addition to Cash on the Spot and John Boy's, police said Watts confessed to robberies at Saltwater Seafood Market; Valero convenience store on Anderson Road; One Stop Exxon on Main Street; and two robberies at Valero convenience store at the corner of Charlotte Avenue and White Street.

Four days after Lord's shooting at Cash on the Spot, police arrested Watts at the Rock Hill condo of Cassonya Conwell, a family friend. Police recovered a weapon and ammunition Monday when Watts was arrested at Riverview Villas off Riverview Road.

Assault and battery with intent to kill can carry up to 20 years in prison, while kidnapping could carry up to a 30-year sentence, 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett said. Armed robbery could bring up to a 30-year sentence, and attempted armed robbery could carry up to 20 years, he said.

Police say Watts' crime spree began in October, a month after he was released from the S.C. Department of Corrections for a juvenile offense. His juvenile criminal history was not available.

Watts attended Clinton Junior College but on Monday was "administratively suspended," college President Elaine Copeland said.

Watts remained in custody Wednesday night at the York County Detention Center.

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