Preliminary hearing continues for man accused of strangling La Jolla investor

By City News Service

A preliminary hearing will continue into a third day Wednesday for a man accused of strangling a La Jolla investor in his home and transferring $7.5 million from the victim’s investment account to a new account opened in the victim’s name.

Kent Thomas Keigwin, 60, is charged with murder for financial gain in the June death of 65-year-old John Watson, a retired biotech executive and member of a startup investment group.

According to court testimony, Keigwin was seen in the area of Watson’s home on June 8, the day the victim was found dead.

Prosecutor Sharla Evert said the victim and the defendant — who were acquaintances — struggled inside Watson’s home, and the victim was Tasered and strangled.

The next day, Keigwin transferred $7.5 million from one of Watson’s investment accounts into a new account that he had opened in the victim’s name, Evert alleged.

Keigwin also opened a safety deposit box and put his passport, Social Security card and transfer codes for bank accounts inside, according to the prosecutor.

Three days later, on June 11, Keigwin came back to Watson’s residence with the victim’s keys — dressed all in black and carrying an empty backpack — and was arrested by homicide detectives investigating Watson’s death, Evert said.

Keigwin could face life in prison without parole or the death penalty if convicted, the prosecutor said.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis will decide which penalty to pursue after the conclusion of the preliminary hearing.

Judge Yvonne Campos will decide whether enough evidence was presented for Keigwin to stand trial.