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Tucson landlord found guilty of stalking local judge

Fei Qin

Fei Qin was sentenced to 1½ years in prison for stalking a Tucson judge.

A jury has returned a guilty verdict against a Tucson landlord accused of stalking a local judge.

Jurors in Pima County Superior Court deliberated for less than three hours on Wednesday, Dec. 15, before convicting Fei Qin of stalking Justice of the Peace Adam Watters in the days before Watters fired a “warning shot” toward the defendant.

In closing statements recapping the Feb. 14 confrontation outside Watters’ home in the Catalina Foothills, the prosecution focused on testimony from Watters and his family members that they feared for their safety after someone repeatedly threw trash on their lawn, around the same time the judge’s pickup truck tires had been slashed on two separate occasions while parked overnight in his driveway.

The string of incidents in early February would “cause emotional distress and reasonable fear to any reasonable person,” said out-of-town prosecutor Brian McIntyre, the Cochise County attorney who was brought in to avoid a conflict of interest if a local judge presided over the Watters’ case.

Investigators testified that some of the litter retrieved from the judge’s lawn was addressed to tenants Qin has recently tried to evict in a hearing in Watters’ courtroom. Qin, 38 was not charged in the tire-slashing incidents.

Defense attorney Jeff Grynkowich of Tucson focused heavily on the conduct of Watters on the day of the confrontation, and played the jury a video Watters made of himself threatening to kill Qin before firing what Watters said was a “warning shot.” The bullet landed inches from Qin, who was unarmed.

Grynkowich urged jurors to be skeptical of Watters’ testimony in light of the judge’s conduct that day, and called the case “a black mark on the (legal) profession.”

McIntyre, in rebuttal, told the jury Qin should not be “given a pass,” just because “Adam Watters didn’t act the way you think a judge should act.”

Watters, 60, pleaded the Fifth Amendment earlier in the case to avoid incriminating himself when asked to explain his actions at a pretrial evidentiary hearing.

Watters was not criminally charged for the shooting after a review by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office but could have jeopardized that positive outcome by testifying at the hearing.

Qin’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 12.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or calaimo@tucson.com. On Twitter: @AZStarConsumer


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Reporter

Carol Ann has been with the Star since 1999, but has been an investigative reporter for more than 30 years. She's won numerous awards in the U.S. and Canada. In 2003, she was a war correspondent in Iraq and was a Knight-Wallace Fellow in Michigan in 2008.

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