Watson’s childhood friend testifies at trial

Published 5:47 pm Friday, February 17, 2012

By NICOLE LOGGINS / Staff Writer

BIRMINGHAM — A childhood friend of Gabe Watson, who is on trial for allegedly murdering his wife in a fatal 2003 diving incident, testified that Watson was “emotional” about his wife’s death after his return to Alabama.

Watson’s wife, Helena resident Christina “Tina” Thomas, died in a scuba diving excursion Oct. 22, 2003. After Thomas’ death, Watson admitted he failed to perform his duty as a dive partner for his wife and served 13 months in an Australian jail for manslaughter.

Watson has pled not guilty to charges of capital murder in the course of kidnapping and capital murder in the course of pecuniary gain. According to previous reports, Watson was the beneficiary of Thomas’ $160,000 insurance policy.

In Feb. 17 testimony, Michael Kevin Moore, a childhood friend and dive buddy for Watson, said Watson “wanted to stay and bring back his bride’s body.”

According to previous reports, after Thomas’ death, Watson told authorities she panicked and blacked out while scuba diving. Authorities said Watson later changed his story, saying Thomas was trapped in a current.

While Watson and Moore were certified as advanced divers, Moore testified Feb. 17 that he and Watson were ‘novice divers’ with limited open water experience.

Moore compared the decision Watson made that day to leave his wife behind underwater to being in a burning car.

“Do you stay in the car if your passenger can’t get out, or do you go and get help and do something?” Moore said during testimony.

Tommy Thomas, Tina Thomas’ father, sat with the prosecution during the trial Feb. 17. Thomas was not available for comment.