Wednesday 21 February 2018

US judge throws out case against 'honeymoon killer'

Gabe Watson stands during a break in his trial, for the murder of his wife Tina. Photo: AP
Gabe Watson stands during a break in his trial, for the murder of his wife Tina. Photo: AP
Gabe and his then-fiancee Tina Thomas. Photo: AP

AN AMERICAN man has been acquitted of murdering his newlywed wife during a scuba diving trip on their honeymoon in Australia.

Gabe Watson, 34, had already served 18 months in an Australian prison after pleading guilty there to a manslaughter charge involving negligence.

He was on trial for murder in the US state of Alabama and faced a sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted.

Prosecutors claimed Watson had drowned his wife Tina in October 2003 by turning off her oxygen supply, intending to collect the insurance momney.

But the only eyewitness testified he thought Watson was trying to save the woman.

Judge Tommy Nail ruled that prosecutors had failed to present enough evidence of a crime to send the case to jurors. He ended the two-week-long trial and acquitted Watson.

He said: “The only way to convict this man of capital murder is to use speculation and conjecture. The state has failed to establish an intentional killing.”

The defendant’s father David Watson said every court that had looked at the case determined his son did not intentionally kill his wife.

David Watson said: “I’m just so relieved. Hopefully he can put his life back together. I hope everyone can begin to heal. The rest of his life will determine his legacy. Gabe is a good kid.”

Tina Watson’s father, Tommy Thomas, had given evidence that he was suspicious of Watson, and suggested he had changed his story about what happened in the water off Townsville, Australia.

Watson’s mother collapsed in tears outside the courtroom following the acquittal.

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