Grand jury reaches decision on 2003 honeymoon drowning

Published 10:57 am Monday, October 25, 2010

By KATIE HURST/ Staff Writer

The Jefferson County grand jury met Oct. 22 to hear evidence on whether Gabe Watson, a Hoover resident, should face charges in the United States for the drowning death of his wife, Tina, on their 2003 Australian honeymoon.

Christina “Tina” Thomas was a Helena native.

According to officials from the Alabama Attorney Generals office, the grand jury came to a decision that is not yet being released.

Prosecutor Don Valeska, chief of the violent crimes division at the attorney general’s office said the case is a secret proceeding and information on it has not been released.

Watson is currently serving an 18-month sentence in an Australian prison, where he was tried for murder and pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Prosecutors believed Watson murdered his wife on Oct. 22, 2003, just 11 days after their wedding while the couple was scuba diving.

While in court, Watson, a certified rescue diver, admitted he failed to fulfill his responsibilities as his wife’s dive buddy during a scuba diving expedition on the Great Barrier Reef.

Watson is scheduled to be released from the Australian prison sometime in mid-November, Valeska said.

In September 2009, Alabama Attorney General Troy King announced he would seek capital murder indictments against Watson.

“Tina Thomas and her family have been deprived by the Australian court system of the justice they deserved,” King wrote in a press release.

If the grand jury issued an indictment in its Oct. 22 hearing, Watson would face the murder charges upon his return to Alabama.