Independence man gets 25 years for rape of pregnant Kenner woman _lowres

Brandon Watkins

Brandon Watkins, a former Kenner resident who pleaded guilty in August to repeatedly breaking into a pregnant woman’s Kenner apartment and eventually raping her, was sentenced to 25 years in prison Friday.

Watkins, 26, of Independence, pleaded guilty to the rape charge as a two-time felon before his trial was set to begin last year, increasing his maximum sentence from 40 years to 80 years. However, Judge Ray Steib, of 24th Judicial District Court, limited his prison time to 25 years, handing down two terms that will run concurrently: a 25-year sentence for forcible rape and a 14-year sentence for burglary.

The victim, 28, was sleeping on Dec. 15, 2013, when Watkins came into her bedroom to look for money and raped her, authorities said.

On the night of the rape, the victim told Watkins she was pregnant and asked him to use a condom, but he refused, according to Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s office.

Watkins was on parole for simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling at the time, but he had disappeared after he was released from custody.

He was captured about nine months later after being linked to the rape through his DNA. Authorities say Watkins told detectives he had been sneaking into the woman’s home through a back window almost every day for a month without her knowledge.

Prosecutors told the judge Friday that the victim wanted it known that she was pregnant when Watkins raped her and she was placed in the position of pleading for her safety and that of her unborn child, Connick’s office said.

Steib disputed Watkins’ assertion that he didn’t intend to rape the woman, that it “just happened” during the break-in.

“I find his excuse unbelievable,” Steib said, according to Connick’s office.

In addition to the 25-year sentence, Watkins will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life when he is released from prison.

Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai prosecuted the case.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.