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Man Convicted of Assault on Roommate Who Drew a Penis on His Face

James Denham Watson (photo courtesy ACPD)An Arlington (Va.) man has been convicted of assault and battery in a strange case that received national and even international attention.

[Redacted] Watson, 32, was found guilty this week of beating up his roommate after the roommate drew a penis on his face while he slept. An Arlington County Circuit Court judge sentenced Watson to a $1,250 fine and restitution on the misdemeanor charge, but no additional jail time.

During trial, the jury was told that Watson and his two roommates were out drinking in Clarendon on a Friday night last March. When they returned to their Lyon Village home, Watson fell asleep on the couch with his shoes on, prompting the victim decided to prank him by drawing a penis on his face with a black dry erase marker, according to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Ben Inman, who prosecuted the case.

Watson awoke and “felt a tingling on his face,” leading him to use a mirror function on his phone. Upon seeing the cartoonish genitalia, Inman said, Watson went upstairs and began repeatedly punching the victim in the face. The victim testified that we awoke to Watson punching him, while Watson argued that a heated verbal argument preceded a physical fight between the two men. The third roommate corroborated the victim’s story, said Inman.

As a result of the assault, the victim suffered a broken nose, an eye that was swollen shut and other facial injuries, according to police and prosecutors.

The victim testified that pranks were a part of life in the home, and that it was a “house rule” that one would be drawn on should they pass out with their shoes on. Watson argued that he was aware of no such rule.

The victim also told the jury that he had tested the marker on his arm before using it, and that the black mark had come right off. Watson said he tried but could not remove the penis drawing from his face.

In recommending no jail time, the jury might have felt sorry for Watson and the negative attention, media and otherwise, he received as a result of the genitalia on his face.

“He was an object of ridicule in jail that weekend because he still had the penis drawn on his face,” Inman told ARLnow.com. Watson made bail early the following week.

Watson is scheduled to be back in Circuit Court in July as a result of the conviction. He was previously tried on felony charges of assaulting a law enforcement officer in 2012, but the imposition of sentence was suspended on the condition of good behavior. That suspension could be revoked, leading to possible jail time or other punishment.

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