Judge sentences former ND police chief to life in prison, then backtracks

(KFYR) The judge who gave the former LaMoure police chief life in prison for his continuous sexual abuse of a child conviction says it was not his intent.

James Watson, 52, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole by Stark County Judge William Herauf Tuesday.

According to court records, Herauf says his intent was to have the Department of Corrections have full control over how long Watson serves.

“If Mr. Watson does not accept responsibility and continues to be a danger, he should sit in jail. However, through treatment with DOCR, Mr. Watson may be able to be released and should be given the chance,” said Herauf.

The letter also says it’s a control the DOCR should have and he thinks they can determine when Watson can return to society.

Herauf says this affects Watson’s cases in Stark County and Golden Valley but not Hettinger.

A new hearing will be set next week to finalize the issue.