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Man chokes wife, throws child into pool, police say

Wife says she fought back, stabbing her husband

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man is accused of choking his wife and throwing a child into a pool, even though he knew the girl couldn’t swim well.

Brandon Watkins, 31, was arrested Monday afternoon on two counts of battery and one count of child abuse. Tuesday morning, a judge ordered Watkins held on $200,000 bond.

News4Jax spoke with his wife, Amber Watkins, who said she and her husband have been married for five years and things have been bad, but things have never been as bad as they got Monday morning.

“We’ve been married for five years now. This isn’t the first time it’s happened. It’s the first time that I fought back this much,” Amber Watkins said. “It was never, never this bad. It was always just, kind of, he would get verbal and we’d walk away.”

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Brandon Watkins began arguing with his wife Monday morning, but then it got physical and the fight went into the kitchen, where Amber Watkins said she was choked by her husband.

The police report said the fight moved to the foyer of the Mandarin home, where Brandon Watkins hit his wife with a retractable baton. Brandon Watkins then went outside, where he threw the couple's 6-year-old daughter into the pool, even though the girl cannot swim well.

“I was so worried. I mean I had my left hand free and I grab the first thing I could. And I’m fortunate it happened to be a small knife. And I hit him right in his deltoid. He let go of me real quick and I took off running. And he was still trying to grab my cellphone,” Amber Watkins said.

For the first time, Amber Watkins said, she fought back, stabbing her husband in the shoulder. She said the knife saved her life.

“I know it did. He already body-slammed me by this point and said, ‘I’m going to do it again, but this time on your head,’” Amber Watkins said.

Amber Watkins said she’s had enough, and now that she has taken a stand, she wants others in her situation to do the same thing.

“Get out. Get out. Get out. Get out. Stand up for yourself. Get out of that relationship. They don’t want anything to do with you,” Amber Watkins said. “These are the only blood relatives I have. I’m adopted … These are the only blood relatives I have and nothing is going to happen to them."

Brandon Watkins is being held at the Duval County Jail without bond. He’s scheduled to make his first appearance in court at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

News4Jax was told the Department of Children and Families is now investigating.