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'Western Bandit' suspect charged with 53 counts, including two murders

A man authorities believe to be the "Western Bandit” was charged Nov. 2 in connection with a series of armed robberies and shootings beginning in 2011, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. 

Patrick Watkins, a 51-year-old black man, is charged with murder in the deaths of Nathan Vickers, 32, on Jan. 17, 2011, and Larise Smith, 56, on Dec. 8, 2014. The special circumstance of multiple murders makes Watkins eligible for the death penalty, if convicted (though prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty). 

Watkins also faces 51 other counts, including 26 counts of attempted murder, 13 counts of assault with a firearm, five counts of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, four counts of second-degree robbery, and felon in possession of a firearm. The incidents occurred between November 2011 and November 2014. 

Watkins is accused of riding his bicycle up to people sitting in their cars, then either demanding cash or opening fire on the occupants. The prosecutor also suspects that he approached people on foot and either robbed or shot them. 

Watkins is scheduled to return to court Dec. 1. 

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @jeromercampbell and @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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