Alabama man returns to Australia for murder trial
BRISBANE, Australia — An American accused of drowning his wife during a honeymoon scuba diving trip to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was jailed Wednesday pending his trial for her alleged murder.
David Gabriel Watson, 32, of Birmingham, Alabama, arrived in the northeastern city of Brisbane early Wednesday of his own volition, ending the possibility of protracted court proceedings to extradite him from the United States.
He was met at the airport by Australian police and was arrested.
Later, a Queensland state Supreme Court judge ordered him held in custody and adjourned the case until May 29. Watson did not appear in court and did not enter a plea.
Watson is charged with murdering Christina Mae Watson on Oct. 22, 2003. They were diving off the tropical Queensland coast 11 days after their wedding.
Prosecutor Tony Moynihan said in a statement Wednesday that he was pleased Watson had avoided the complex and lengthy extradition court process.
Watson, who has since remarried, could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of murder.
Watson, an experienced diver, said in videotaped police interviews that his 26-year-old wife, a novice diver, started having trouble a few minutes into their dive. He said he decided to go for help rather than attempt a rescue himself. One of the dive leaders pulled the woman to the surface, but efforts to resuscitate her failed.
During an Australian coroner’s inquest last year, police testified that they initially thought the death was an accident but became suspicious when Watson changed details of his account.
Coroner David Glasgow found it was likely Watson killed his wife by holding her underwater and turning off her air supply. The coroner said a possible motive was her modest life insurance policy.