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Murder trial ahead for Sacramento man in slashing deaths of pastor’s wife, grandchildren

Family, friends of victims watch as Jerod Watson is arraigned on triple murder charges

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The man facing the death penalty in the knife slayings of a pastor’s wife and her two grandchildren nearly three years ago was arraigned Friday in a Sacramento courtroom ahead of a trial in the killings.

Jerod Watson faces three counts of murder and special allegations of using a knife to commit the October 2016 killings of Christine Lucas and grandchildren Marquise Brown, 23, and 20-year-old James Ferrell. Watson also faces a second allegation of committing multiple murders, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Savage read from the bench.

Watson, 54, remains held without bail in Sacramento County Main Jail pending a May 31 hearing to assign a judge for what is expected to be a lengthy trial. Watson, who had a history of domestic violence charges before the killings, listened with little expression from behind the bars of the courtroom’s cell.

With attorney Pete Harned, he pleaded not guilty to each of the counts, denying the allegations with a direct “I did not.”

Three ragged rows of Lucas, Brown and Ferrell’s survivors glared at Watson from the gallery as he casually rested his elbow against the cell’s bars before his case was called. One of those in the gallery was Twanna Lucas, daughter of the elder Lucas, mother to sons Brown and Ferrell – and Watson’s former girlfriend.

It was Lucas who discovered the bodies of her 68-year-old mother, the wife of Gloryland Baptist Chuch pastor Rev. John Lucas, and her sons inside their home in the Alder Grove apartments on Broadway near Eighth Street, directly across the street from Sacramento Fire Department’s Station 5.

Christine Lucas was stabbed repeatedly; her grandchildren slashed and stabbed, medical examiners said.

Marquise Brown left behind a daughter; Ferrell had just graduated high school.

Watson fled Sacramento after the slayings, sparking a months-long nationwide manhunt that ended in Mississippi, where he was nabbed on a panhandling charge in February 2017. He was brought back to Sacramento in April of that year.

Family of the slain three gathered outside the courtroom after Friday’s hearing. One wore a sweatshirt, photos of Brown and Ferrell printed on the back, the words “Long Live James and Marquise” above.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Twanna Lucas said of coping with the years since the deaths and the wait for a trial date. “I’m just waiting for it to start. I just want justice for my family.”

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