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Bail-jumper arraigned in crash that injured his passenger

A Buffalo man with 24 suspensions on his driver’s license was arraigned today on vehicular assault and other charges for a horrific drunken-driving crash that critically injured him and his passenger after he sped away from police and crashed into a house on the East Side.

Anthony Watson, 36, pleaded not guilty to the felony assault charge as well as aggravated DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and bail jumping.

The assault charge was tied to the injuries his passenger suffered in the April 12 crash and to Watson’s driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.18 percent, more than two times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to Assistant District Attorney Christopher M. McCarthy.

The passenger, Walter “Billy” Jackson, 45, suffered massive head injuries and bleeding on the brain, according to family. He is listed in serious condition in the trauma intensive care unit at Erie County Medical Center.

The bail-jumping charge was tied to Watson’s failure to show up last year for arraignment in another DWI case after he was arrested and released on bail for driving 94 mph on the Kensington Expressway on New Year’s Day 2013.

Police had sought Watson for nearly a year in the Kensington case before finding him April 12 critically injured behind the wheel of his pickup truck after crashing into the home at Newburgh and East Delavan avenues following a police chase.

Watson spent about 10 days in the jail ward at Erie County Medical Center and was then held for arraignment in the Kensington case and for charges to be filed in the East Side crash.

He pleaded not guilty last week in Erie County Court to three charges in the Kensington case – felony DWI, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and speeding – and was ordered held without bail.

He was charged this week in the April 12 crash and arraigned today before City Court Judge Joseph A. Fiorella who set bail at $50,000.

The crash occurred after police noticed Watson driving erratically and pulled over his truck on Genesee Street at Newburgh. When they got out of their patrol car, he sped off and struck the house a short time later, police said.

Watson and Jackson, his brother-in-law, were returning from the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls when the crash occurred, Jackson’s family said.