A man who told authorities two decades ago that he had killed 13 women but never was charged with murder was scheduled to go on trial today in the stabbing death of a 14th woman, found in an alley in 1979.
Coral Eugene Watts, who is serving a prison sentence in Texas for burglary with intent to murder, is scheduled to be released in April 2006.
But if convicted of first-degree murder in Pontiac for the death of Helen Dutcher in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, he faces a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole. Michigan does not have a death penalty.
Watts pleaded guilty to the lesser charge in Texas in 1982. Under a controversial deal, he agreed to help prosecutors -- who lacked evidence for a murder charge -- solve 13 killings.
Twelve of those killings were in Texas and the other -- not Dutcher -- was in Michigan.
Because of an appeals court ruling and mandatory release laws, Watts is scheduled to be freed at age 52. In Dutcher's case, Circuit Judge Richard Kuhn has ruled Watts' confession can be admitted in his trial, saying the 13 killings show a pattern.