A GRAND jury in Alabama will decide next week if Gabe Watson is to be charged with murdering his wife.
The 18-member jury will hear evidence next Friday (October 22) in Alabama’s most populous city, Birmingham, alleging Watson planned to kill Tina Watson before they left the US for their 2003 honeymoon in Australia.
If just 12 of the 18 jurors agree with prosecutors, 32-year-old Watson will likely be charged with capital murder and face a trial in Alabama.
Grand juries are held in secret and designed to test the prosecution case against defendants. Watson will not be present, as he is locked up in a Queensland jail cell serving the final weeks of an 18-month sentence, after agreeing to a manslaughter plea deal with state prosecutors.
The Alabama authorities and Tina’s parents were outraged by what they deemed Queensland’s light sentence for Watson and Alabama’s attorney-general’s department vowed to prosecute him.
Watson and Tina were married for just 11 days when she died during a scuba diving expedition on the Great Barrier Reef and Alabama authorities allege Watson planned to kill his wife.
If the grand jury recommends charges against Watson, when he completes his Queensland jail sentence next month he will be deported under Australian guard from Brisbane to the US. Once on American soil, he will be taken into US custody.
After initially refusing to hand over key evidence in the case, the Queensland Government relented when Alabama consented not to pursue a death sentence against Watson.
The most severe sentence Watson can receive in Alabama is life in jail without parole.