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Author Topic: American scuba diver chgd with killing wife (Christina Mae Watson)ACQUITTED!  (Read 35117 times)
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« on: June 21, 2008, 06:02:39 AM »

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080621/ap_on_re_au_an/australia_us_dive_death

American scuba diver charged with killing wife

By ROHAN SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jun 21, 1:46 AM ET
 


SYDNEY, Australia - Eleven days after getting married in 2003, an Alabama woman put on diving gear and slipped into the water off Australia's coast for what was supposed to be a romantic exploration of a shipwreck with her new husband.

But the dive ended with her drowning and on Friday, almost five years later, her husband, David Gabriel Watson of Birmingham, Ala., was charged with murder for the honeymoon death.

The Queensland state coroner found there was sufficient evidence to charge Watson in the death of his 26-year-old wife, although circumstances of the drowning remain unclear.

Christina Mae Watson, known as Tina, drowned Oct. 22, 2003 while diving at the wreck of the SS Yongala, a passenger and steam freighter that sank during a cyclone in 1911 on the Great Barrier Reef near the northeastern city of Townsville.

Coroner David Glasgow issued the indictment after a months-long investigation. The move triggered extradition proceedings to return Watson to Australia.

Watson faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted of murder. His Australian lawyer did not immediately enter a plea, but he has argued the evidence does not support any criminal charge.

Watson was not present in court and his whereabouts were unclear. He did not testify at the coroner's inquest, claiming privilege against possible self-incrimination.

But in videotaped police interviews, Watson, who uses the first name Gabe, said his wife began having trouble a few minutes into the dive. He said she panicked and clutched at his mask, pulling it off his face. By the time he restored it, she was sinking away from him, her eyes wide and arms outstretched toward him, he said.

Watson, an experienced diver who had completed a dive rescue course, was acting as a so-called dive buddy for his less-experienced wife. He told police he decided to go for help rather than following her to the sea floor and attempting a rescue.

One of the dive leaders pulled Tina Watson to the surface. Efforts to resuscitate her failed.

During the coroner's inquest, police testified that they initially thought the death was an accident. However, they became suspicious when Watson changed details of his account.

An autopsy found no pre-existing medical condition that could have explained the young woman's death. Tests showed there was nothing wrong with her diving gear.

In his findings Friday, Glasgow said the exact circumstances of Tina Watson's fate may never be known.

"There are only two persons who know what in fact actually occurred," Glasgow said. "One is Tina, who cannot tell us, and the other is Gabe."

Watson's lawyer, Steve Zillman, argued during the inquest that his client had no motive to kill his wife and that the evidence did not support a criminal charge. He accused police of being intent on blaming Watson for the death, no matter what the evidence showed.

But Glasgow said Tina Watson's father, Tommy Thomas, had provided a possible motive, telling authorities his daughter told him that shortly before they were married, Gabe Watson asked his fiancee to increase her life insurance and change the policy to make him the sole beneficiary. Thomas said his daughter decided to lie to Watson that she had made the changes.

Thomas, Tina Watson's mother Cindy Thomas and other family members watched the proceedings on a live video link between the courtroom and Alabama, where they live.

Tommy Thomas was quoted by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. as saying the family welcomed Friday's indictment.

"We're actually relieved to hear the coroner's findings," Thomas said. "It's something that we have dealt with for quite some time and it validated our beliefs."

National news agency Australian Associated Press quoted Watson's U.S. attorney Bob Austin as saying that Watson had not yet decided whether he would fight Australia's extradition request.

"He's very disappointed, very distraught and displeased," Austin was quoted as saying of Watson's reaction to the coroner's findings.

Australia and the United States have an extradition treaty, though the process can take months and Watson will be able to challenge any extradition request in U.S. courts.

Edit to add "aquitted" to subject line.  MB


« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 03:42:21 PM by MuffyBee » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2008, 06:17:02 AM »

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22812143-5001021,00.html

Dive death hubby's sick jokes

By Peter Michael
November 24, 2007 12:00am



THE inquest into the death of a woman found lying on the seabed in a honeymoon diving mystery has heard how her husband - a trained rescue diver - joked that for an extra $10 she could have had a million-dollar life insurance policy.

Just ten days into their honeymoon Gabe Watson's wife, 26-year-old former model and scuba diver Tina Watson, of Alabama, died on the Great Barrier Reef.

She had air in her tank, her equipment was working and the regulator was in her mouth.

Experts have all but ruled out the possibility of a medical problem or faulty equipment, leaving only two options: a tragic accident or foul play.

But did the honeymoon turn into murder?

State Coroner David Glasgow this week opened an inquest into the suspicious death of Christina Mae Watson on the shipwreck of the Yongala, 89km southeast of Townsville, on October 22, 2003.

The inquest was told it would be very easy to kill a novice diver underwater.

One possible scenario was that Watson deliberately turned off Tina's main air supply at a depth of 15m and five minutes into the dive.

She panicked - having only 11 previous dives - instead of unclipping her vest and turning the main valve back on herself.

Her powerfully built husband, shielded by an underwater visibility of 10-15m, might have held her in "a bearhug" as she fought to grab his secondary air supply and swim to the surface.

Starved of oxygen, she would have quickly gone into hypoxia, spasms, and in the throes of death, Watson might held her - staring into her eyes - until she died.

It was suggested he could have then turned the main air supply back on, to cover his tracks, and let her sink to the ocean floor.

Witnesses told how he appeared on the surface screaming: "I've lost my wife".

At the same time dive instructor Wade Singleton, who was on an orientation dive with three others, found her lying on the bottom "staring up at the fish".

"Then I realised there were no fish and no bubbles," Singleton told the court.

The dramatic moment when Singleton began his desperate rescue bid - with her body shown in the distance - was inadvertently captured on camera by American diver Gary Stempler.

The photo, with his wife Dawn Osana posing unwittingly in the foreground, has become a key piece of evidence before the inquest.

Watson has told 16 different versions of what happened.

He said his wife got into difficulty during strong currents and panicked.

He claimed she knocked his face mask off and the regulator out of his mouth and, unable to calm her, he headed for the surface.

What is inexplicable is why the trained rescue diver - who was taught how to rescue distressed or unconscious divers - abandoned his novice wife.

Or why it took him a "pedestrian" two minutes to return 15m to the surface.

It took rescuer Singleton a minute and a half to travel twice the distance carrying Tina's body from the sea floor in 30m of water.

One witness Dr Stanley Stutz, who was on a drop line to the wreck 15m above, said he watched Watson "bearhug" Tina before letting her go.

"The look on her face was awful, I had the belief she knew she was in danger, her eyes were wide open," his statement said.

Watson showed friends at a wake after her funeral a macabre video with him saying: "Smile at the camera, case you get eaten by shark or something."

He joked that for an extra $10 his wife could have had a million dollar life insurance policy.

But the court this week heard evidence that Watson only stood to make US$33,000 out of his wife's life insurance not US$1 million as reported in some media outlets.

He also would have only inherited a heavily mortgaged house and a motor vehicle, the court heard.

Watson, 26 at the time of the death, is suing Old Republic Insurance and Travelex for hundreds of thousands of dollars in punitive damages including the "mental anguish" of his loss.

Alabama police have named him as a suspect in the death.

Lead investigator Detective Sergeant Gary Campbell, of Townsville CIB, told the court he found "bizarre" the behaviour of Watson in trying to redeem his wife of ten days life insurance policies, his actions in having her body disinterred, the lack of a gravestone and the theft of the parents' flowers from her grave site.



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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2008, 06:48:46 AM »

http://tinyurl.com/5cbbfm

Watson hasn't decided if he will fight extradition

June 21, 2008 - 10:55AM

American murder accused David Gabriel Watson is "distraught and displeased" about being charged with killing his wife on a honeymoon diving trip in Queensland and fears he will not get a fair trial in Australia, his US lawyer said today.

Watson, who spent today holed up in his home in the US state of Alabama, and his US legal team are undecided if they will fight the Australian government's attempt to extradite him to Queensland for the murder trial.

If convicted, the 31-year-old faces a maximum sentence of life in an Australian prison.

Watson was informed late last night a Queensland coroner had charged him with murder of his 26-year-old fashion model wife, Tina.

The charge was announced at the end of an inquest in Townsville into her death.

"He's taking it the same way you would," Watson's Alabama-based lawyer, Bob Austin, told AAP today.

"He's very disappointed, very distraught and displeased."

What appeared to be a dream honeymoon for Watson and Tina has turned into a nightmare for the couple's families.

Watson and Tina married in Birmingham, Alabama, on October 11, 2003 and travelled to Australia.

Tina died during a diving expedition with her husband off the Queensland coast 11 days after the wedding.

Watson has rejected accusations he killed his wife.

He returned to Alabama and refused to travel back to Townsville for the inquest.

Austin said he still believes Watson's decision not to testify in person was the right strategy because the murder charge "was a forgone conclusion".

"That was the consensus of his defence attorneys that it was not the appropriate thing at that time," Austin said.

"I think you can always second guess, but I think in the long run it is probably the better thing because I think binding him over for trial was a forgone conclusion.

"I don't understand it, but we'll deal with it."

Watson and his legal team believe the media frenzy the story has created in Australia will not allow a fair trial in Australia.

Austin added his client has not been treated as innocent until proven guilty.

"That's what it is supposed to be, but it's not in this instance," the lawyer said.

The issue of Watson unable to receive a fair trial in Australia appears to be one argument his lawyers will use if they choose to fight extradition.

"As I understand it, the coroner himself chastised the media for their handling of it," Austin said.

"So, yeah, I'm sure it will be brought up whether the case has been tainted by the coverage.

"When the coroner says it himself, that pretty well indicates there has been a mishandling."

Australia and the US has an extradition treaty, but, as other high-profile extradition cases between the countries have shown, it can take years for paperwork and the court systems in both nations to process and approve extradition requests.

Australia and the US, however, have proven in past cases they are keen to adhere to the treaty and send defendants across the Pacific Ocean to face justice.

Asked if Watson would fight extradition, Austin replied: "I don't know how much there is to fight".

"If there were a chance, (we) probably would.

"But, I don't know the viability of that.

"That's something we haven't broached yet because it hasn't been necessary."

Watson, an experienced diver, was his wife's "buddy" during the dive and a witness told the inquest the couple appeared to be locked in an "embrace" about 15 metres below sea level before separating and moving in different directions.

Watson headed toward the surface while his wife sank to the ocean floor, the inquest heard.

One theory presented to the inquiry was Watson turned off his wife's air supply, restrained her, and then turned it back on when she was dead or nearly dead.

Austin today asked the media to give his client privacy.

The lawyer said journalists were in Watson's "front yard last night".

"Let the process take its course," Austin said.

"Let the courts handle it and don't try to out guess, second guess, pre-empt or whatever you try to do to make news instead of report news."

AAP

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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2008, 07:03:39 AM »

http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2007/11/20/8342_news.html

Death dive

ANDY TOULSON

20Nov07


CLOSURE ... Cindy and Tom Thomas at the Townsville courthouse yesterday

THE husband of an American honeymooner who died at Yongala wreck four years ago is expected to give evidence to a coronial inquest into her death.

The question of dive conditions on the day of American bride Tina Watson's death while diving, the relevance of her prior heart condition, and the validity of contradictory statements by her husband Gabe Watson, were the key issues of a jam-packed first day of the long-awaited coronial inquest.

The two-week inquest, before coroner David Glasgow, will investigate Christina `Tina' Mae Watson's unexplained death on October 22, 2003, just 10 days into her honeymoon with her husband.

They were on a reef dive with Mike Ball Dive Expeditions on the boat Spoil Sport to the wreck of the Yongala, 48 nautical miles south-east of Townsville.

Mr Watson, a certified rescue diver, said his wife, an inexperienced diver, got into difficulty during the dive during strong currents and panicked.

Mr Watson will not be travelling from his Hoover, Alabama home to attend the inquest, but it was confirmed in court yesterday that he had consented to giving evidence during the inquest either via video link or telephone.

The first three of an expected 65 witnesses were called yesterday, beginning with chief investigating officer, Townsville Detective Gary Campbell, who gave a slide show presentation providing an overview of the four-year police investigation into the matter.

Det Sgt Campbell covered witness statements, dive procedures, and a detailed break-down of the sequence of events involving the couple as they dived that day, along with autopsy findings.

The key matter raised by Det Sgt Campbell were the `issues of concern' to the investigating police, which included the supposed malfunction of Mr Watson's dive computer.

He said Mr Watson's statement of his attempt to rescue Tina following them getting separated was contradictory, as he had given several differing reasons why he could not rescue his wife, including ear problems, her sinking too fast, and not being able to help her once she reached the bottom, claims which were contradictory with his qualifications as a rescue diver.

Other areas of concern to police included Mr Watson's `slow' rate of ascent when going for help, whereas it only took dive instructor Wade Singleton half the time to ascend twice the distance from the ocean floor while carrying Tina.

Also of concern was Mr Watson's statement that he had attempted to communicate his distress to other divers underwater, including grabbing and shaking one diver a claim not borne out by any of the many divers interviewed.

Also in question was why Mr Watson `talked down' his rescue diver qualifications, saying he was not qualified to bring a person to the surface, a statement heavily contradicted by his US dive instructor; and the outcome of the police dive re-enactment, which found that Tina's body should have been located much closer to the wreck.

Other areas of police concern included Mr Watson's denial that he had asked Tina just days before their wedding to change her work insurance policy to make him the beneficiary; and contradictory medical statements about his ear problems.

The second witness was specialist cardiologist Dr Andrew Epstein, who gave evidence via telephone from Alabama, confirming that he had conducted an operation on Tina in 2001 to cure her of arrhythmia, or a fast-beating heart, and that her earlier condition in no way affected her ability to dive or her resultant death.

The third witness was Gavin Docking, the former captain of the Spoil Sport, via telephone from Fort Lauderdale in the US, giving evidence contradicting Mr Watson's claim that he and his wife were not told of the strong currents.

The inquest is set to take a heavy toll on parents Tom and Cindy, with the pair both becoming emotional several times during yesterday's proceedings.

Mr Thomas said he and his wife were `encouraged and impressed' at the degree of thoroughness of the investigation by Townsville police.
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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2008, 09:27:12 AM »

Grieving Father of Bride in Honeymoon Scuba Death: 'It's Devastating'

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," June 23, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: An American newlywed dies while scuba diving on her Australian honeymoon. Her American husband has been charged with murder. And tonight, the wife's father goes "On the Record."

Now, here's what we know. October 22, 2003, 11 days after their wedding, Tina and Gabe Watson honeymoon in Australia and go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. Tina mysteriously dies during the dive. Accident or homicide? Now, after a month-long inquest, Gabe Watson has now been charged with his wife's murder. Gabe Watson is believed to still be in the United States.

Tina Watson's father, Tommy Thomas, joins us live from Virginia. Welcome, Tommy.

TOMMY THOMAS, FATHER OF CHRISTINA WATSON: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tommy, first of all, as I say to everybody who comes here with a child who's died, I don't know really what exactly to say, so I'm just going to jump right into the facts of the case, other than, you know, I feel terrible for you and every other parent who comes in here.

Watch Greta's interview

THOMAS: Thank you. It is. It's devastating.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, and I -- I know it is. By the way, have you spoken to Gabe at all in the last couple years since your daughter died?

THOMAS: The last time that I actually saw him was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2003 in his attorney's office at his attorney's request. I haven't spoken or seen him since.

VAN SUSTEREN: How soon after your daughter died did you find out she died?

THOMAS: When I got the call, I actually thought that it had just happened. I received a call in Tallahassee, Florida, at 8:36 in the morning on October the 22nd. Later, much later, I actually found out that it had happened really the night before because of the time difference in Townsville and here being about 15 hours. There was, I guess, a good 12 or 13 hours difference in me being notified and it happening.

VAN SUSTEREN: Take me back to the first time that you met Gabe. How soon before their wedding did you meet him?

THOMAS: I can't give you the exact date. I think they had dated for a little while, and unlike boys that she had gone with before -- usually, you know, we met them pretty quickly and they spent time with us. We watched movies together, went out to dinner together, laid around the house and watched movies together, went to football games together, and what have you. We didn't meet him for quite some time, and then because we had asked about him several times, he had her come by the house I think it was around May of 2002 so that we would have an opportunity to meet him.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where did she meet him?

THOMAS: She met him -- he was actually in several classes with her at UAB (ph), where they were going to college together.

VAN SUSTEREN: So prior to the marriage, did she say anything peculiar, anything at all that sort of now, as you search your memory, might be important in the investigation and the trial, if there is one?

THOMAS: There's been several things that have actually already been given into evidence.

VAN SUSTEREN: The one thing that I've been reading about that's been -- that's cast suspicion on him is that he's given inconsistent statements as to what's happened. Is that pretty much what you know about the different statements?

THOMAS: I was in Australia for the 19 days of the coronial hearing in November and January, and during that time, was actually confronted with both of the statements that he gave to police, as well as his civil deposition under oath in his civil case in Alabama, and then heard evidence given by several witnesses. And there were various deviations in the original story that he had told us and what we read and heard through his statements to other people.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was Tina -- had she ever gone scuba diving before her honeymoon?

THOMAS: Say again?

VAN SUSTEREN: Did Tina scuba -- did Tina know how to scuba dive prior to her honeymoon?

THOMAS: She actually started taking diving lessons I believe it was January of 2003 and had finished her basic dive certification and actually got her basic dive certification card just a few days before they left on their honeymoon.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did she have any health problems?

THOMAS: She had had a minor heart problem that was corrected through surgery two or three years prior, but she was in perfect health. She had actually been to a doctor and been checked out before they even went on the trip. So she was in good health physically, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: When the autopsy was done -- and I hate asking this to her father and talking about an autopsy to a father -- but did they say why she died? Was it a drowning, or what caused her death?

THOMAS: The official cause of death was drowning and deprivation of oxygen.

VAN SUSTEREN: And were there any -- are there any witnesses to that, the actual deprivation of -- I mean, I guess the theory the prosecution has is that he -- that he removed oxygen from her or cut off oxygen some way?

THOMAS: There was a boat that had pulled up shortly after Tina and Gabe had gone in the water. It's Jazz (ph) 2. It's a day-tripper. And they briefed the divers on the way out to the site. As soon as they pull up to the site, they drop anchor, tie off to the anchor ropes, and immediately start putting divers into the water because they're only going to be there for three or four hours.

I actually went to Australia, to Townsville, to be there at Christmas of 2003 and had an opportunity to go out on the Jazz 2 to the site and meet the Spoilsport. So I actually saw how they pulled up and anchored and immediately started putting divers into the water.

One of those divers from the Jazz 2 is an eyewitness to part of what occurred under water.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know where Gabe is tonight? Because now the -- now that they've -- now that he's been charged in Australia, they want him to come to Australia and stand trial. Do you know where he is?

THOMAS: No, I don't.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is he in the United States, as far as you know?

THOMAS: Oh, I'm quite sure that he's at home or with his parents. I don't -- I believe that he's in Hoover (ph), where he lives.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Does he have an occupation? Is he back at work or anything like that? Does he have a new girlfriend, anything like that?

THOMAS: I don't know anything about his whereabouts. I have not tried to keep up with him. As I told you, the last time I saw him was November 2003.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tommy, thank you. And good luck with this, sir.

THOMAS: Thank you very much, Greta.

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« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2008, 09:24:53 PM »

Thank you for posting this story. All of you posted excellent information. I recently heard about this story on FOX. I wonder why it took five years for it to come to light.
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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2009, 06:23:24 AM »

http://www.wtop.com/?nid=391&sid=1674779

American jailed in wife's Australia vacation death
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) - An American man pleaded guilty and was sentenced Friday for the manslaughter of his wife, who drowned during their honeymoon scuba diving trip in Australia. Her body was found on the ocean floor.

In move that outraged the victim's family, David Gabriel Watson will serve just one year of the four-and-a-half-year sentence in the death of his wife of 11 days, Christina Mae Watson. She died in 2003 as the couple dove off the tropical coast of Queensland. The suspended sentence is not unusual in such crimes in Queensland.
Watson, of Birmingham, Alabama, was to stand trial in the Queensland Supreme Court for murder, which carried a potential sentence of life in prison, until the prosecution accepted the guilty plea to the lesser charge.

Prosecutor Brendan Campbell told the court the manslaughter plea was accepted on the basis that the 32-year-old Watson _ trained to rescue panicked divers _ failed in his duty as her dive buddy by not giving her emergency oxygen.

Campbell said Watson allowed his wife to sink to the ocean floor without attempting to retrieve her, and he did not inflate her buoyancy vest or remove weights from her belt.

"He virtually extinguished any chance of her survival," Campbell said.

Outside court, Christina's father, Tommy Thomas, said his family was in disbelief over the sentence.

"I'm sure that the entire Australian nation as well as our country back home shares in the shock at what we've just seen, because it's a total injustice ... it's ludicrous," Thomas said. "It's an embarrassment to everyone involved. We believe that Gabe Watson murdered our daughter."

Watson married Christina in a ceremony described by her friends as her dream wedding in Birmingham on Oct. 11, 2003.

Eleven days later, a dive instructor found her lying on the bottom of the ocean during a weeklong Great Barrier Reef scuba diving trip off the coast of Townsville city. Watson told police her death was an accident.

Coroner David Glasgow formally charged Watson with murder last June. Glasgow said it was likely Watson killed his wife by holding her underwater and turning off her air supply. The coroner said a possible motive was her modest life insurance policy.

Watson turned himself in last month to answer the murder charge in the northeastern city of Brisbane.

An experienced diver who has since remarried, Watson had said in videotaped police interviews that 26-year-old Christina, a novice diver, started having trouble a few minutes into their dive.

He said he decided to go for help rather than attempt a rescue himself. One of the dive leaders pulled the woman to the surface, but efforts to resuscitate her failed.

A fellow diver told Glasgow's inquest last year he saw Watson engaged in an underwater "bear hug" with his petite wife, after which he headed to the surface while she sank to the ocean floor.

Watson told police his wife knocked his mask off and then sank too quickly for him to retrieve her. But the prosecution rejected his explanation, saying it would not have been possible for her to sink rapidly.
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2009, 02:51:55 PM »


Thanks for the update, Nut...

What a shock... Manslaughter & will serve one year only??!!!   



 an angelic monkey  My prayers are with Christina's family & friends.  an angelic monkey
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2010, 10:00:18 AM »

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/no-death-penalty-in-barrier-reef-case-20100629-zhhz.html
 No death penalty in Barrier Reef case
PETER MITCHELL
June 29, 2010 - 1:54PM
Alabama has reluctantly dropped plans to seek the death penalty against Gabe Watson for the death of his wife during a honeymoon diving expedition on Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.

A frustrated Alabama Attorney-General Troy King said the decision was made after the Queensland government refused to hand over "vital evidence" against Watson because Alabama would not rule out pursuing the death penalty for the American bubble wrap salesman.

The maximum sentence Alabama prosecutors will now pursue against Watson for the 2003 death of his wife, Tina, is life in jail without parole.
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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2010, 10:01:41 AM »

rest of article
A disappointed Mr King revealed his decision in a letter to Queensland Attorney-General Cameron Dick and said he hoped Mr Dick would be more helpful.

"Your refusal to honour your commitment to the citizens of the state of Alabama leaves me no alternative except to agree to seek no sentence more severe than that of life without parole for Gabe Watson, who has already plead guilty in Australia for the death of his wife," Mr King wrote in the letter.

Mr King, Alabama prosecutors, authorities and Tina's parents were outraged when Queensland prosecutors agreed to a plea deal with Watson last year that jailed him in Queensland for 12 months in exchange for a manslaughter guilty plea.

The sentence was bumped up to 18 months after an appeal but it was not enough for Mr King who vowed to launch an investigation in Alabama and, if enough evidence was found, seek a death penalty case against Watson when he completed the Australian jail sentence and was transferred back to his home in Alabama.
Queensland's decision to hold key evidence in the case, including the couple's dive equipment, because of the death penalty threat stifled Alabama's case, Mr King said.

"When Australia began its murder investigation into the death of Tina Thomas Watson, the United States and the state of Alabama co-operated fully with your government and investigators," Mr King said in his scolding letter to Mr Dick.

"The United States and the state of Alabama provided vital evidence to your investigators, even allowing them to come to the United States and participate in a search of Gabe Watson's home.

"The United States and the state of Alabama took you at your word when you promised full co-operation into our subsequent investigation into Tina's death."

Mr King said he could not go back on his word and seek the death penalty at a later date.

"Under United States Supreme Court law, an offer made by a prosecutor is binding," Mr King wrote.

Mr King is attempting to determine if Watson plotted while in his home state of Alabama to kill his wife before they left for Australia on their fatal 2003 honeymoon diving expedition on the Great Barrier Reef.
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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2010, 10:03:41 AM »

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/29/2940321.htm?section=justin
Australia's extradition laws stopping death penalty
Updated 6 hours 2 minutes ago
Alabama's attorney-general has blamed Australia's extradition laws for his inability to seek the death penalty for a man jailed in Queensland over his wife's death.

Gabe Watson's wife Tina died during a scuba diving trip while the pair were on their honeymoon in 2003.

Under Australian law a person cannot be extradited if there is a chance they would face the death penalty.

In a letter to Queensland Attorney-General Cameron Dick, Alabama's attorney-general Troy King said United States authorities had cooperated fully with Australian investigators.

But Mr King described Queensland's position on the death penalty as "a refusal to honour your commitment to the citizens of the State of Alabama".

As a result he says he was forced to reduce the maximum penalty for any charges laid against Watson to life without parole.

Mr King says the extradition laws reflect Australia's long-standing, bipartisan opposition to the death penalty.

Watson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is due to be released in November after serving an 18-month sentence.
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« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2010, 07:58:25 AM »

http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/10/jefferson_county_grand_jury_to_1.html
Jefferson County grand jury to hear case against Gabe Watson in Australian honeymoon drowning
Published: Friday, October 22, 2010, 5:30 AM
Prosecutors with the Alabama attorney general's office plan to present evidence to a Jefferson County grand jury today in the death of a Helena woman who drowned while on her 2003 honeymoon in Queensland, Australia.

0
Share  3 Comments Don Valeska, chief of the attorney general's violent crime division, said Thursday that representatives of his office will be at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham at 8 a.m. today, where witnesses are scheduled to appear before the grand jury.

The session comes seven years to the day of the death of Christina "Tina" Thomas Watson and just weeks before her then-husband, Gabe Watson of Hoover, is scheduled to be released from an Australian prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the case in
June 2009.

Gabe and Tina Watson had been married for 11 days when she drowned during an Oct. 22, 2003, scuba diving expedition off the coast of Queensland.

Watson, due to be released in mid-November, was charged with his wife's murder in June 2008 following a lengthy Australian coroner's inquest. He was sentenced to 4½ years, and his prison time was reduced to 12 months when he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, saying he had failed to fulfill his obligation as a diving buddy to his wife.

After objections from Tina Watson's family and Alabama Attorney General Troy King that the sentence was too lenient, Australian Attorney General Cameron Dick increased Watson's time by six months.

In June 2009, King announced his office would present the case to a grand jury if evidence showed Watson planned his wife's death in Alabama and carried it out in Australia.
David Patton, a University of Alabama law professor who teaches criminal law, said while Watson was found guilty of manslaughter and served prison time in Australia, Alabama officials have the legal right to seek charges here.

"The Supreme Court ruled that double jeopardy doesn't apply across sovereigns, in this case Australia and Alabama," Patton said. "For example, a person can be tried for the same conduct in both our federal and state courts."

However, Patton said Alabama officials could face other jurisdiction hurdles. "But that would depend on what they charge him with and what conduct they allege he engaged in in Alabama," Patton said.

King made a request for case documents and evidence, including dive computers and tanks, in September 2009. Australian authorities responded by sending publicly available documents from Watson's sentencing session that King's office already had, Alabama officials said.

In January, King dispatched reminders to his counterpart in Queensland and the police service there of their promise to provide physical evidence gathered during the drowning investigation. One month later, Dick told the Queensland Parliament he wanted an understanding that Alabama would not seek the death penalty for Watson.

King complied in a June 25 letter, agreeing he would seek no sentence more severe than life without parole if the case went to trial.
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« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2010, 03:43:45 PM »

http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/11/australians_fascinated_by_late.html
Australians intently follow latest turns in case of "Honeymoon Killer," Hoover's Gabe Watson (with video)
Published: Thursday, November 11, 2010, 2:10 PM     Updated: Thursday, November 11, 2010, 2:24 PM
The fate of Hoover's Gabe Watson continues to cause debate in Australia where the man known as the "Honeymoon Killer" was released Thursday from prison on the expectation he would be extradited to Alabama to face trial in the 2003 death of his wife during a scuba diving outing along Australia's the Great Barrier Reef.

The extradition, however, was placed on hold by Australian authorities who say the issue won't be resolved for months as officials work out the issues over the death penalty, which Watson could face in Alabama if convicted of a murder charge. Australia does not accept the death penalty.
violent crime division, told the Birmingham News he doesn't understand why Australian officials are hesitant to deport Watson because removal of the death penalty was agreed upon months ago in letters between Alabama Attorney General Troy King and the Queensland Attorney General Cameron Dick.

But as this account from the International Business Times indicates, the stumbling block may well be that the agreement was only between two states in the two nations and did not involve their federal governments.

More links to stories about the legal debate surrounding Gabe Watson:
http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/11/australians_fascinated_by_late.html
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« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2010, 08:28:18 PM »

http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/11/gabe_watson_indicted_on_two_co.html
Gabe Watson indicted on two counts of capital murder; his attorney calls charges 'ludicrous ... screwball theory'
Published: Thursday, November 25, 2010, 6:56 PM     Updated: Thursday, November 25, 2010, 7:09 PM

A Hoover man recently released from an Australian prison after serving 18 months for manslaughter in the 2003 drowning death of his wife has been charged with two counts of capital murder.

Gabe Watson, 33, arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday morning after he was deported on a commercial flight from Melbourne. He was taken in handcuffs to the 77th Street Community Police Station for booking, and a police lieutenant there said Watson would likely make a court appearance before being sent to Alabama.
Don Valeska, chief of the Alabama attorney general's violent crime division, confirmed Thursday that Watson was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on Oct. 22. on capital murder in the course of kidnapping and capital murder for pecuniary gain.

Charges were sealed until Watson returned to the United States.

The indictment lists as count one that Watson caused the death of Christina "Tina" Watson of Helena by drowning her for pecuniary gain or other valuable considerations, proceeds from a life insurance policy, according to Valeska.

In count two, Watson caused the death of Tina Watson by drowning her during an abduction to accomplish a murder, Valeska said.

The indictment states that Alabama prosecutors will not seek the death penalty.

Watson pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Australia, admitting he failed to render aid to his dive buddy -- his wife of 11 days.

Australian authorities had charged Watson with murder but accepted his plea to manslaughter. He was released from prison Nov. 11 but detained in Australia while officials there sought assurances from the U.S. government that he would not face the death penalty should murder charges be brought against him in Alabama.
Brett Bloomston, Watson's Birmingham attorney, said neither charge is a viable theory of prosecution.

Bloomston said his client was not a beneficiary of any insurance policy and said the kidnapping charge is "as ludicrous as it sounds."

"To prove that, the attorney general will have to offer that Gabe tricked Tina into falling in love with him, into marrying him, into traveling halfway across the world and going scuba diving," Bloomston said. "It really is a screwball theory."

Tina Watson's father, Tommy Thomas, said the family has remained confident that Waston would face Alabama charges.

"We believed that the evidence that got him indicted in Australia would also get him indicted here," Thomas said.

Thomas said he hopes Watson will not receive bail upon his return to Alabama.

I would want him to stay in jail because I know if he's out, his attorneys will do everything they can to avoid and delay a trail, but if he's locked up, they'll be eager to get this to trial and get this done," Thomas said.
Bloomston said if it wasn't for Attorney General Troy King, Watson would already be in Alabama.

"The fact is, Gabe will wave extradition to Alabama," Bloomston said. He had requested that King allow Watson to turn himself in, but said the request was ignored.

"What is Attorney General King afraid of?" Bloomston said. "Did Attorney General King fear Gabe would come back to the United States and go find a cave in Montana?"
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« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2010, 09:29:51 AM »

http://abcnews.go.com/US/honeymoon-killer-gabe-watson-charged-wifes-scuba-diving/story?id=12247798
'Honeymoon Killer' Gabe Watson Charged With Wife's Murder After Return to U.S.
American Deported Thursday From Australian After Serving Sentence for Killing Wife While Scuba Diving
By ANDREA CANNING, SARAH NETER and RUSSELL GOLDMAN
Nov. 26, 2010

Video at link
The American known as the "Honeymoon Killer" has been charged in the U.S. with his newlywed wife's murder seven years after she died on an Australian scuba diving trip.
Gabe Watson, 33, was already convicted and sentenced in Australia for the crime. He was deported to the United States on Thursday and was arrested as soon as he stepped off the plane in Los Angeles.

But his attorney said Watson is denying the charges despite pleading guilty to manslaughter in Australia.

"The standard of manslaughter that Gabe pled guilty to is a negligent manslaughter," attorney Brett Bloomston told "Good Morning America" today. "Basically he pled guilty of being a bad dive buddy."

"He accepted responsibility for his limited role and that's not being able to save Tina as she drowned," he said.
Tina Watson, 26, died in 2003 while scuba diving near Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Bloomston said today that Gabe Watson has since re-married. His new wife, who he married nearly five years after Tina Watson's death, is a school teacher in Birmingham, Ala.

"His new wife is very stoic," he said. "She's a very sweet girl."

And, he added, she's standing by her husband.

But prosecutors in the U.S. believe Watson, an experienced rescue diver, turned off his wife Tina Watson's oxygen tank in order to collect on her life insurance policy. Underwater video captured her apparently lifeless body on ocean's bottom.

Bloomston called the alleged motive "ludicrous" and said that the beneficiary of Tina Watson's life insurance policy was her father, not her husband.

"Why would anybody travel halfway across the world and take their young bride of 11 days scuba diving to kill her in front of 60 other divers?" he questioned.

His U.S. arrest, his late wife's family said, that's been a long time coming.
"You never think your daughter will leave for her honeymoon and her husband will kill her," Tina Watson's mother, Cindy Thomas, told ABC News in 2008.
 
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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2010, 08:40:23 AM »

http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/12/prosecutors_face_unusual_hurdl.html
Alabama prosecutors face unusual hurdles in Gabe Watson trial
Published: Wednesday, December 01, 2010, 6:45 AM     Updated: Wednesday, December 01, 2010, 7:33 AM

Prosecuting Gabe Watson in two different legal systems for the 2003 honeymoon death of his wife may be unusual, but it is legal, law experts said.

"It certainly does not happen every day," said Joseph Colquitt, a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law.

Watson, 33, faces two Alabama capital murder charges in the death of his 26-year-old wife, Christina Thomas Watson, who drowned while diving underwater in Australia.

Watson was charged in Australia with murder, but pleaded guilty in 2009 to manslaughter for not fulfilling his obligation as a dive buddy for his wife and recently was released after serving 18 months in prison there.
Watson was arrested in California on Thursday upon his return to the United States and has been ordered extradited to Alabama on capital murder charges that could result in a sentence of life without parole.

"This is a novel set of facts," said Don Cochran, a Cumberland School of Law professor and former state and federal prosecutor.

But is it legal in a country where one of the most basic Constitutional rights is protection from double jeopardy, or being tried twice for the same offense?

"It's not double jeopardy because it occurred in another country," said John Lentine, a criminal defense lawyer and law professor at Cumberland and the Birmingham School of Law.

State, federal and foreign courts are free to prosecute independently under their own laws, Lentine said.

"You can have an offense with identical evidence, but if it is prosecuted by different sovereignties, there is no double jeopardy," he said.

Colquitt cited the federal and state prosecutions of Walter Leroy Moody Jr. in the separate 1989 explosions that killed a federal judge, Robert Vance, in his Mountain Brook home and a lawyer in Georgia.
Moody was convicted of federal charges in Georgia involving both men's deaths. Then he was convicted in Jefferson County of a state capital murder charge and sentenced to death for Vance's murder.

Cochran also pointed to civil-rights era criminal prosecutions.

When a local jury would clear a white defendant of murdering a black person, then federal prosecutors tried the defendant on charges of violating the victim's civil rights.

"This case may be a little trickier," Cochran said. "But if prosecutors can show some act occurred here in Alabama, they probably would have jurisdiction."

Jurisdiction matters

State prosecutors contend that Alabama is where Watson hatched the scheme to lure his wife to Australia so he could kill her to collect on a life insurance policy.

Prosecutors will have to prove those facts to get a capital conviction. And it won't be the first time a Jefferson County jury has dealt with a similar case.

Earlier this year Michael Keith Winchester was convicted of capital murder in Jefferson County after the victim's body was found in Cullman County.

Prosecutors argued that Jefferson County had jurisdiction because that is where Winchester set into motion the chain of events that led to the homicide. Winchester, who was sentenced to life without parole, is appealing his case.
Establishing jurisdiction will be one of the first legal battles when a Jefferson County judge is assigned to Watson's case, experts said.

A defense motion to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction should be filed before the arraignment, Lentine said.

"They can also file a motion for a more definitive statement to make prosecutors pinpoint the facts they will rely on in their case," he said.

If they clear that hurdle, state prosecutors will have to prove Watson intended to kill Thomas, Cochran said.

"To be capital, it can't be the result of a reckless act," Cochran said. "Bringing the charges was the easy part. Getting a conviction will be the hard part."



Join the conversation by clicking to comment or e-mail Velasco at evelasco@bhamnews.com.
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« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2010, 08:45:57 AM »

http://abcnews.go.com/US/australia-honeymoon-death-father-allegedly-murdered-bride-seeks/story?id=12283031
Father of Bride Allegedly Murdered on Honeymoon Scuba Diving Trip Seeks Justice
American Deported From Australian After Serving Sentence for Death of Wife Tina Watson
Post a Comment By ANDREA CANNING and EMILY FRIEDMAN
Dec. 1, 2010

The father of the bride who was allegedly murdered by her new husband during their Australian scuba diving honeymoon said today that he wants justice for his daughter and that her accused killer is lying about what happened underwater.
Tommy Thomas, the father of Tina Watson, who was 26 when she died in 2003 while diving near the Great Barrier Reef, told "Good Morning America" that he wants to see his daughter's former husband held responsible for the death.

"What we want is for him to face the evidence for the very first time in front of a jury," Thomas said.

Watson was convicted and sentenced in Australia for manslaughter, and has completed an 18-month sentence.

But Alabama prosecutors are pursuing a murder case because they believe he planned his wife's death before leaving the states.

Watson, 33, was deported last week to the United States and was arrested and charged upon landing in Los Angeles. He appeared in court Tuesday before a Los Angeles judge who paved the way for his extradition to his home state of Alabama
He has been charged with murder for monetary gain and kidnapping.

Thomas said his daughter's ex-husband, whom she had married 10 days before she died, has changed his story about what happened during their ominous scuba diving excursion.

"It became very evident very quickly that [Gabe Watson] was changing his story," Thomas alleged.

Watson, an experience diver, has maintained that his wife panicked and that he was unable to save her.

But Thomas said today that another diver who was with the newlyweds on the trip saw Watson ignoring Tina Watson's pleas for help, and prosecutors in the United State believe Watson, an experienced rescue diver, turned off his wife's oxygen tank in order to collect on her life insurance policy.

Underwater video captured her apparently lifeless body on the ocean's bottom.

Watson's attorney said his client has denied the U.S. charges despite pleading guilty to manslaughter in Australia.

"The standard of manslaughter that Gabe pled guilty to is a negligent manslaughter," attorney Brett Bloomston said. "Basically he pled guilty of being a bad dive buddy."

"He accepted responsibility for his limited role and that's not being able to save Tina as she
He has been charged with murder for monetary gain and kidnapping.

Thomas said his daughter's ex-husband, whom she had married 10 days before she died, has changed his story about what happened during their ominous scuba diving excursion.

"It became very evident very quickly that [Gabe Watson] was changing his story," Thomas alleged.

Watson, an experience diver, has maintained that his wife panicked and that he was unable to save her.

But Thomas said today that another diver who was with the newlyweds on the trip saw Watson ignoring Tina Watson's pleas for help, and prosecutors in the United State believe Watson, an experienced rescue diver, turned off his wife's oxygen tank in order to collect on her life insurance policy.

Underwater video captured her apparently lifeless body on the ocean's bottom.

Watson's attorney said his client has denied the U.S. charges despite pleading guilty to manslaughter in Australia.

"The standard of manslaughter that Gabe pled guilty to is a negligent manslaughter," attorney Brett Bloomston said. "Basically he pled guilty of being a bad dive buddy."

"He accepted responsibility for his limited role and that's not being able to save Tina as she
He has been charged with murder for monetary gain and kidnapping.

Thomas said his daughter's ex-husband, whom she had married 10 days before she died, has changed his story about what happened during their ominous scuba diving excursion.

"It became very evident very quickly that [Gabe Watson] was changing his story," Thomas alleged.

Watson, an experience diver, has maintained that his wife panicked and that he was unable to save her.

But Thomas said today that another diver who was with the newlyweds on the trip saw Watson ignoring Tina Watson's pleas for help, and prosecutors in the United State believe Watson, an experienced rescue diver, turned off his wife's oxygen tank in order to collect on her life insurance policy.

Underwater video captured her apparently lifeless body on the ocean's bottom.

Watson's attorney said his client has denied the U.S. charges despite pleading guilty to manslaughter in Australia.

"The standard of manslaughter that Gabe pled guilty to is a negligent manslaughter," attorney Brett Bloomston said. "Basically he pled guilty of being a bad dive buddy."

"He accepted responsibility for his limited role and that's not being able to save Tina as she
drowned," he said
Deportation Agreement With Australia Means No Death Penalty Option for Gabe Watson
Bloomston said that Gabe Watson has since remarried. His new wife, who he married nearly five years after Tina Watson's death, is a school teacher in Birmingham, Ala.

"His new wife is very stoic," he said. "She's a very sweet girl."

And, he added, she's standing by her husband.

Bloomston called the alleged motive "ludicrous" and said that the beneficiary of Tina Watson's life insurance policy was her father, not her husband.

"Why would anybody travel halfway across the world and take their young bride of 11 days scuba diving to kill her in front of 60 other divers?" he said.

Although Watson pleaded guilty and spent 18 months in an Australian prison on a reduced manslaughter charge, Alabama prosecutors have argued that there are no international rules on double jeopardy.

They say Watson can be tried again because they believe he planned his wife's death before leaving the United States.

Autopsy results found no pre-existing medical condition that could have explained the women's death and tests indicated that there was nothing wrong with her diving gear

Australia delayed Watson's deportation because the country, a staunch opponent of capital punishment, feared that if reconvicted in Alabama, Watson would face the death penalty.

Only after the U.S. government pledged it would not impose a death sentence did Australia agree to repatriate him.

Los Angeles police took Watson into custody upon clearing customs. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earlier this week signed an extradition order, which sent Watson to Alabama where he will likely face a new trial.

Video at link
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« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2010, 06:01:07 AM »

http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2010/12/hold_gabe_watson.html
Gabe Watson arrives in Birmingham to face capital murder charges
Published: Tuesday, December 07, 2010, 12:03 AM     Updated: Tuesday, December 07, 2010, 12:11 AM

Alabama officials traveled to California on Monday and brought back the Hoover man who faces two capital murder charges in the 2003 drowning death of his wife in Australia.
Gabe Watson, 33, departed Los Angeles on a commercial flight Monday afternoon and, after a stop in Atlanta, arrived in Birmingham Monday night about 11:30.

Watson was escorted on the flight by law enforcement personnel from the attorney general's office and members of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, said Don Valeska, chief of the violent crime division of the Alabama attorney general's office.
After arriving at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, Watson was  taken to the Jefferson County Jail to await an arraignment hearing, where he can enter his plea to the charges against him, Valeska said.

Watson initially was charged with murder in Australia but served 18 months in an Australian prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter, saying he failed to render aid to his dive buddy, Christina "Tina" Thomas Watson, his wife of 11 days. The two were on a honeymoon scuba diving expedition off the coast of Queensland, Australia, when Tina Watson drowned.

On Oct. 22, while still in prison in Australia, Watson was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on charges of capital murder in the course of kidnapping and capital murder for pecuniary gain. Prosecutors contend Watson plotted to kill his wife while in Alabama and carried it out in Australia. The indictment was sealed until Watson's return to the United States.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King is scheduled to appear this morning on NBC's "Today" show to discuss the case. Brett Bloomston, Watson's Birmingham attorney, said he taped a segment for the same show last week at a Birmingham TV station because he could not travel to New York due to court obligations.
Both King and Bloomston talked with Matt Lauer about the case on the "Today" show on Nov. 20. This morning's show airs at 7 a.m. Central Standard Time.
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« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2010, 06:06:52 AM »

http://sheriff.jccal.org/PopUp3.asp?Location=BHAM&ID=21017961&JCID=336218
WATSON, DAVID GABRIEL
Jail Location:  Bham
Jail Number: 21017961
Offense Code:  09990711
Offense Description : CAP MUR FOR HIRE/CON   
Bond Amount:  NO-BOND   
Warrant Number:  100576812
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« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2010, 07:40:53 AM »

http://www.gadsdentimes.com/article/20101214/APN/1012140847
Ala. man seeks bond in wife's Aussie diving death
The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 5:01 a.m.


An Alabama man is asking a judge to free him on bond as he awaits trial in the death of his wife during a honeymoon diving adventure in Australia.
Gabe Watson's lawyers have filed papers saying he should be released to live at home in suburban Birmingham. State prosecutors disagree, and they're asking the court to keep Watson in jail.

Circuit Judge Tommy Nail has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday afternoon on the request.

An Alabama grand jury indicted Watson on murder charges in the death of his wife, Tina Watson, in Australia in 2003. Watson already has served time there after pleading guilty to a reduced charge in her death.

Watson was returned to Alabama last week. He remarried after Tina Watson's death.
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