Man acquitted of drowning wife on Australia honeymoon

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:54pm EST

1 of 3. Gabe Watson hugs wife Kim after he was acquitted of Capital murder charges of his ex wife Tina Mel Bailey Criminal Justice Center in Birmingham, Alabama. February 23, 2012. A judge on Thursday acquitted Gabe Watson, an Alabama man accused of killing his new wife on a honeymoon scuba dive trip in Australia, saying prosecutors failed to establish she had been intentionally slain.

Credit: Reuters/Marvin Gentry

Related Topics

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - A judge on Thursday acquitted an Alabama man accused of killing his new wife on a honeymoon scuba dive trip in Australia.

Prosecutors said Gabe Watson, motivated by potential insurance payouts, had drowned his wife Tina in October 2003 by turning off her oxygen supply during their dive in the waters off Townsville, Australia.

But after prosecutors wrapped up their case on Thursday, Judge Tommy Nail ruled there was no evidence to suggest that Gabe Watson intended to kill.

"The only way to convict this man of capital murder is to use speculation and conjecture," Nail said. "The state has failed to establish an intentional killing."

Watson's mother collapsed in tears outside of the courtroom after hearing the news.

"I am thrilled for Gabe. He can finally begin the healing process," said Watson's father, David Watson. "Hopefully he can put his life back together."

Gabe Watson served 18 months in an Australian jail after pleading guilty to failing to do enough to help his wife during the dive.

He was tried for murder in Birmingham, Alabama, because that was where the couple married and prosecutors say he plotted Tina's death.

Alabama authorities agreed to waive the death penalty in order to get Australian authorities to release Watson back to the United States, meaning he would have faced a maximum lifetime prison sentence had he been convicted.

The judge's ruling Thursday abruptly ended the trial, which was in its second week and had been closely watched by the Australian media.

Tina Watson's father was the state's final witness. He told jurors how Gabe Watson had sued his wife's family after her death for everything she owned, down to her Gone with the Wind videos.

"It should have gone to a jury to decide," Tommy Thomas told reporters afterward. "We are disappointed. There is a lot more protection for the accused than the victim."

(Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Tim Gaynor\)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
Whys333 wrote:
Maybe they’ll catch him the next time.

Feb 23, 2012 3:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Susanbsbi wrote:
First of all USA has no right over this case, as it happen out of he country and he was already sentence and served his time. The parents wanted to punish him, as they said that he benefits from here life insurance police, which her father got the money.

So what ever happen there was no grounds for a trial in American, for killing his wife for insurance money, that her father got.

Feb 23, 2012 5:00pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.