Reo Guy Watts

Reo Guy Watts

A Utah State Prison inmate who reportedly admitted to strangling his cellmate nearly two months ago was charged with murder on Friday.

James Afuakimoana Tamoua, 24, was charged in Salt Lake City 3rd District Court with murder, a first-degree felony, for the death of 38-year-old Reo Guy Watts.

According to charges, all inmates were accounted for and locked inside their cells at the Oquirrh block on the night of Sept. 21.

Around 10 p.m., prison officials responded to a cell for an emergency call and found Watts unresponsive on his bed. He was announced deceased at the scene after medical personnel arrived.

Tamoua had reportedly activated the emergency call and told the responding prison officer “I think I killed him” and “cuff me up,” charges state.

During interviews with investigators, Tamoua said he had been sitting at a table in the cell and Watts had been laying upwards on his bunk. He reportedly explained he had choked Watts, flipped him onto his stomach, put an arm around his neck and strangled him, charges state.

Officials did not report a possible motive for the fatal attack.

In February, Tamoua was convicted of federal charges for robbing a convenience store at gunpoint in 2017. He was sentenced to five years in prison for violating the Hobbs Act and sentenced to another five years in prison for the state charge of theft.

As his criminal cases were ongoing, Tamoua stabbed another inmate multiple times with a pencil at the Davis County Jail in October 2018, charges state.

He was convicted of attempted aggravated assault by prison, a third-degree felony, and sentenced up to five years in prison.

Tamoua also broke the fire sprinkler in his jail cell while at the Davis County Jail, according to charges.

Watts was serving time for failing to stop for police in 2017 and sentenced for up to five years in prison.

He “loved the mountains and spent as much time as he could enjoying the great outdoors,” his family members wrote in an obituary. He left behind two children and was buried at the Santaquin Cemetery.

Ashley Stilson covers crime, courts and breaking news for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at 801-344-2556 or astilson@heraldextra.com.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!