Husband to stand trial for wife’s murder

Published 11:46 am Monday, December 8, 2008

A Hoover man accused of murdering his wife during their 2003 honeymoon is facing extradition to Australia.

A judge has formally charged Gabe Watson with the murder of his wife, Christina Thomas Watson, according to The Courier-Mail of Queensland and Brisbane, an Australian newspaper. A trial date has been set for Feb. 3.

However, Justice Keiran Cullinane said he has no authority to force Watson to return to Australia, the newspaper states.

Watson and Christina were married Oct. 11, 2003, and honeymooned in Australia. Eleven days after the wedding, the newlyweds were on a scuba diving expedition when Christina drowned.

Authorities believe Watson cut off Christina’s air supply.

In videotaped statements, Watson said Christina panicked and blacked out. Authorities said Watson later changed his story, saying Christina was trapped in a current.

Queensland state coroner David Glasgow ruled in June that Watson should stand trial for his wife’s murder. Glasgow concluded there was no obvious medical cause for Christina’s death, and that her diving equipment was not defective.

Since Watson’s return to Alabama, the Helena Police Department has kept him under surveillance. Detective Sergeant Brad Flynn, the lead American investigator on the case, said the department is waiting for word from Queensland, Australia police to take Watson into custody.

“We’re sitting on ‘go’ and as soon as they get the paperwork together we’ll do whatever we need to do,” Flynn said in a previous report.

Flynn said Queensland authorities will forward the papers through INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organization, to the U.S. Department of Justice. From the justice department, the papers will go to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham. Helena Police, with assistance from U.S. Marshals, will then issue an arrest warrant for Watson and extradite him back to Australia.