By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer
A Westwood man accused of driving his semitrailer last month onto a sidewalk where people were protesting the war in Iraq said his son's Marine battalion, which is in Kuwait, supports his decision to fight criminal charges.
James Watters, 49, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Hamilton County Municipal Court to three charges of aggravated menacing, inducing panic and reckless operation.
"I'm the hero of my son's battalion," Watters said. "They're all behind me fighting this."
Watters was arrested March 24 after he drove his semi on the sidewalk toward about 40 protesters who were gathered on the Ezzard Charles Drive overpass over Interstate 75.
His rig stopped about 10 feet shy of the group, which included a man in a wheelchair. No one was injured.
He says he never intended to hit any protesters, only to get people off the bridge.
Watters' son, Mark, is a sergeant with the 1st Marine Division, Communications.
Phone calls home from the battlefield are infrequent, but Mark Watters heard about what happened before he was able to call home.
The wife of a soldier in his battalion delivered news of Watters' arrest. Mark Watters was proud, his father said.
Mark Watters called home Monday morning to tell his dad the battalion was behind him. "My son said the whole battalion hurrahed me when they heard," Watters said.
If convicted, Watters could be sentenced to spend a little more than a year in jail.
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