Watson pleads not guilty; trial set for May

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

Gabe Watson pleaded not guilty Jan. 31 to charges of murdering his wife during an Australian honeymoon in 2003.

Watson, 33, was arraigned in Jefferson County before Circuit Judge Tommy Nail, who set a trial date for May 23.

Watson, who is from Hoover, remains free on $100,000 bond.

Prosecutors contend Watson murdered wife Christina “Tina” Thomas on Oct. 22, 2003, just 11 days after their wedding, while the couple was on a scuba diving expedition on the Great Barrier Reef.

Thomas was a Helena native.

Brett Bloomston, one of Watson’s defense attorneys, has previously stated that he does not believe the Attorney General’s office will be able to prove the charges against Watson.

“Alabamians will soon find out what Australians already know and that’s that Gabe Watson is not guilty in causing the death of his wife,” Bloomston previously said.

Watson has already served 18 months in Australian prison in connection with her death.

Watson was charged with murder in Australia but pleaded guilty to manslaughter. While in court, Watson, a certified rescue diver, admitted he failed to fulfill his responsibilities as his wife’s dive buddy during the dive.

Watson was indicted Oct. 22, 2010 by a Jefferson County grand jury on charges of capital murder in the course of kidnapping and capital murder in the course of pecuniary gain.

After release from the Australian prison, Watson flew to Los Angeles, where he was arrested. Watson waived his extradition rights in a Nov. 30 hearing in Los Angeles.