By Linda Cicoira

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Two defendants said they are innocent in separate murder cases Thursday in Accomack Circuit Court.

Thirty-year-old Ambrose Felix Devon Knox, of Parksley, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and use of a firearm in connection with the May 2, 2020, shooting death of 41-year-old Joe Northam, of Tasley.  Knox asked for a jury trial. The proceeding has been tentatively set for July.

In the second case, forty-eight-year-old Thomas Lee Watson Jr., of Chincoteague, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the death of his father, 70-year-old Thomas Lee “Big Tommy” Watson Sr., also of Chincoteague. That defendant also asked for a jury to hear his case.

The father was found on the morning of April 30, 2020, at a house on Church Street, on the island, where both men lived. The victim had been shot in the back of the head.

Judge W. Revell Lewis III reminded the defendants that Virginia is under a state of judicial emergency due to COVID restrictions. Less than 30 of the 125 circuit courts in the state have been approved to have jury trials. Accomack is not among those. If the county gets permission, the trials would have to be held in Northampton to allow for distancing. Lewis said Accomack jurors would still be used.

The maximum term for second degree murder is 40 years in prison. Both Knox and Watson were remanded to the custody of the sheriff’s office to await their trials.