Sulphur Rock man behind bars after wife tells police he tried to hold her in their burning residence

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A man from the Sulphur Rock area has been placed on a $100,000 bond by Judge Chaney Taylor after the man allegedly tried to hold his wife inside their burning residence.  

Robert Allen Watkins, 48, is accused in an Independence County Circuit Court filing of starting a fire in the mobile home he shares with his wife Annetta, then attacking her and trying to hold her inside the burning home.

Deputies were called to the residence at 1:46 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, in response to an alarm company report from a residential fire alarm, according to court info. Sheriff Shawn Stephens said it appeared the fire originated at the north end of the residence, resulting in the mobile home being destroyed.

While deputies and the fire department were en route, a 911 call came in from a nearby residence with the caller, David Hood — the brother of Annetta Watkins, telling the operator Annetta had just arrived at his home and told him about the fire and attack.  

He said she only had a sock on and was covering herself with a blanket which was given to her by a passing neighbor of her brother’s when he saw her walking nude down the road.  

The neighbor drove her to her brother’s nearby residence. She told authorities that she awoke by hearing a popping and discovered a fire under her husband’s side of the bed and a fire in the closet. She tried to put the fires out but couldn’t.

Once Annetta fought her husband off from trying to hold her inside, court records note she managed to get to her brother’s house.

She had been severely burned in the fire and was taken to the White River Medical Center.

In an interview with authorities, Robert Allen Watkins said he just went to the bedroom and was trying to help his wife out of the burning mobile home, according to court documents. Watkins told authorities he loved his wife and was not trying to kill her.

The court information also said from WRMC’s Critical Care Unit, Annetta Watkins wrote a note to detectives that said, among other things, “he tried to kill me” and “he never hit me.”  It also said, “under master bed and master closet.”

The 16th Judicial District’s Prosecuting Attorney Holly Meyer, after viewing the information presented by the Independence County Sheriff’s Department, charged Robert Allen Watkins with aggravated assault — a felony.

He is currently in custody and on a bail of $100,000.

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