Years ago, we discussed the controversial case of Michele Carter, a teenager convicted of murder after encouraging a friend to commit suicide. The case raised difficult free speech questions. Now there is another equally troubling case out of Oklahoma, though the criminal charges should be less controversial. Jaye Dee Watts, 44, (shown here with an apt shirt reading “Dogs: Because People Suck”) is charged with giving her 72-year-old mother a handgun after berating her and saying “Do with it what you f***ing will, b—h.” Her mother, Lynda Watts, then killed herself.

Watts is charged with felony murder connected to caretaker abuse and kidnapping. The most serious evidence was retrieved from Ring camera footage from inside the home that allegedly showed Jaye Dee Watts berating her mother. She reportedly calls her a toddler and says “take your pill or choke on it and die.” She is also reportedly heard saying “Oh, I’m raising a 72-year-old toddler,” she allegedly said. “I can talk to you however I f—— want to.”

At one point, she leaves the bedroom and returns with the handgun and shows her how to remove it from the holster. She then says “Do with it what you f***ing will, b***h.” She also retrieved a drill and said that she was going to lock her in the bedroom. Moments later, Lynda fired two shots killing herself.

It is a nightmarish account. This is not the Carter case.  Watts was dealing with a mother with evidence of dementia and threatened her with being walled into her room.

The kidnapping charge is interesting, but under Oklahoma law confinement is contained within the scope of the crime:

 “Every person who, without lawful authority, forcibly seizes and confines another, or inveigles or kidnaps another, for the purpose of extorting any money, property or thing of value or advantage from the person so seized, confined, inveigled or kidnapped, or from any other person, or in any manner threatens either by written instrument, word of mouth, message, telegraph, telephone, by placing an ad in a newspaper, or by messenger, demands money or other thing of value, shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction shall suffer death or imprisonment in the State Penitentiary, not less than ten (10) years.”

That is a felony, so the death can constitute felony murder.

Watts was able to post a $1 million bond and was released.

Watts could claim a type of mental duress, though this would seem to fall short of an insanity defense standard. Since this is a suicide, she will likely insist that it was her mother’s decision and action. However, giving a gun to an elderly person with dementia and then threatening that person would seem a strong basis for prosecution.

Even if she is able to knock down the felony murder charge, she would still be facing a strong elderly abuse charge. It is possible that she could argue that she never actually used the drill to imprison her mother (it is not clear from the reports).

In any case, it looks likely that Watts herself will be facing confinement for many years to come.