Man pleads not guilty in death of girlfriend who died after punch to the face


A man whose girlfriend died of a fatal brain injury in January after being struck once in the face pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault with serious bodily injury Monday.

Dontavious Haney, 19, allegedly caused the death of Denise Watson, 21, by punching her once in the face Jan. 24. According to a probable cause affidavit, the couple were arguing in their apartment in the 1600 block of Peach Street when their altercation became physical.

Haney appeared via video from the Bowie County jail for a hearing before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. Assistant Public Defender Clayton Haas entered a plea of not guilty for Haney and filed a motion for a reduction of his $1 million bail. Tidwell did not rule on the motion Monday.

Haney was arrested in January.

Haney told investigators he broke Watson’s phone and Watson knocked his phone from his hand shortly before he struck in the right side of her face with a closed fist. Watson allegedly hit a wall and fell to the floor, according to a probable cause affidavit. Haney called 911 and attempted CPR when he realized Watson wasn’t breathing.

Watson was taken to Wadley Regional Medical Center and underwent surgery to relieve bleeding on her brain that night. She died the following day.

“I was advised by the Medical Examiner that there were no other pre-existing injuries or conditions that would explain the victim’s injuries and that the victim’s injuries are consistent with a blow to the head,” the affidavit states.

Haney is charged with aggravated assault, family violence, serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon. The deadly weapon is allegedly Haney’s “hand and/or fist.”

If convicted, Haney faces five to 99 years or life in prison.

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