9/18/09 - Brisbane Times - Honeymoon Killer Gabe Watson 'in US Kill Plot'
Life insurance for Tina worth $160K. Alabama is starting investigation and waiting for documents from Australia. Queensland authorities had previously discussed U.S. takeover of case.
9/18/09 - Brisbane Times -No justice for Tina
Alabama authorities state they will arrest Watson upon return to U.S. They claim they have evidence that Watson went to Tina's employer and tried to up her insurance before they were married without her knowledge. Contains lots of still pics of Tina and links to other stories.
9/18/09 - news.com.au Honeymoon Killer Gabe Watson Gets extra six months in jail.
Outcome of sentencing appeal (to increase sentence). Watson's original sentence of 4-1/2 years remains intact, but his time in jail will be extended from 12 months to 18 months.
8/18/09 - couriermail.com.au - Dive victim Tina Watson's family warns on plea deals
Alabama Attorney General, Troy King says he will seek the death penalty.
Queensland Solicitor General (SG) calls for seven year sentence for Watson. SG Argued that Tina was offered orientation dive, but turned it down due to Watson's rescue certification and his taking responsibility for her. SG argued that in none of the versions of Watsons story did he ever say that he panicked. Watson's attorney argues that the fact that Watson went to the surface for help was evidence that he panicked and should be sentenced on the basis that he panicked and should have done more. [to save Tina].
Alabama AG files legal brief and believes Australia needs to hear Alabama's perspective on the case. Brief is 5 pages and sites other Australian manslaughter cases with higher sentences.
Hearing date for appeal for stronger sentence set for 7/17/09. Watson attorneys response due date is 7/15/09.
Queensland attorney general will appeal Watons' manslaughter sentence for more punitive sentence. Tina's father claims the plea deal was essentially made before Watson left for Australia to face charges.
Paramedic Uzi Barnai fought for 40 minutes trying to revive Tina. Describes Watson's behavior. Reports that Tina had air in her tank, her equipment was working and that her regulator was in her mouth. Report states eyewitness, Dr. Stutz was 20 meters away.
Tina's father claims plea deal struck because it would be too costly. Claims he learned 2 days before the plea that a plea deal had been struck. At a meeting the prosecutor admitted to Tina's family, that information on how to structure a manslaughter plea before Watson's voluntary return to Australia was discussed with Watson's attorneys. Video interview of Tina's father stating the meeting with prosecutor was not pleasant. Claims prosecutor had already made up his mind to accept the plea before speaking to Tina's family. Contains link to 15 pictures, including close-up of Tina on the bottom.
Article claims that Watson had rescued another diver some years before. Statement attributed to Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell. Outlines Watson's attorney's arguments for lenient sentencing based on: 1) Evidence consisted of Watson's own statements; 2) Watson not responsible for delay; 3) Watson had to endure intense publicity; 4) Watson cooperated and returned to Australia; 5) time served in an Australian jail would be harder without family;
Alabama Assistant Attorney General says they can demonstrate that Watson went to Tina's job before they were married to try and increase her life insurance without her.
Prosecutor asking for 18 months to be served for manslaughter. Watson attorney wants Watson to serve 16 months.
[NOTE] Sentence to be served was reduced to 12 months with one month served
Watson pleads guilty to manslaughter. Prosecutor says "He virtually extinguished any chance of her survival." And "Watson had failed in his duty as her dive buddy by not giving her emergency oxygen.. Watson also allowed Tina to sink to the ocean floor without making any serious attempt to retrieve her, and that he did not inflate her buoyancy vest or remove weights from her belt."
Watson told police Tina had knocked his mask off and then had sank too quickly for him to retrieve her. But the crown rejected this explanation, saying it would not have been possible for her to sink rapidly.
[NOTE] In the Original Sentencing Remarks, the judge accepted Watson's explanation that Watson's mask had been knocked off of his face.
Interview with Tiina's father; video of wedding
Watson returns to Brisbane, Australia to face trial. Watson's attorney says Watson should not have been charged and wants to clear his name. For 5 years Watson has refused to return to Australia to face trial. Tina's father claims Watson's voluntary return was a total surprise. Australia prosecutor states that his return avoids complex and lengthy extradition process.
Short video clips of wedding, still photos, Watson's statement to police, police re-enactment of bear-hug (to show how Watson may have turned off her air), Tina's father's statement regarding panic and Tina's sense of self-rescue, Watson family makes statement that Watson returned to Australia to clear his name.
Funeral director tells Tina's father that the Watson's instructed him that if he or his family says anything bad about Gabe Watson, they will be removed. Two days before funeral Gabe's father demands Tina's jeep and all her belongings. In 2004 Tina's family discovers plan Gabe had to move Tina to an unmarked grave. Tina's family is prohibited by law from placing a headstone on Tina's grave and her grave remains unmarked . Vandalism of Tina's grave goes on for one year before sureillance is set-up to catch Gabe as the perpetrator.
IN an unexpected budget adjustment, the Queensland Government has announced it will boost the funding for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) by $21million.. the extra funds would also better equip the ODPP to prosecute large, major cases, presumably a reference to, among others, the Dr Patel, Gordon Nuttall and Gabe Watson dive death actions.
[NOTE] Worldwide economic crash occurs three months later.
Descriptions of Gabe Watson's controlling behavior. Tina's sister describes Gabe throwing pizza at Tina in anger in public. Watson placed Tina's engagement ring in a bag, placed it on the TV and ordered Tina not to look at it for six months. Watson is living in the house he inhereted from Tina. Tina's father claims that Watson did try to collect on Tina's life insurance, but was not named as the beneficiary and that Watson had instructed Tina to increase her life insurance and name him as the beneficiary. Another motive was given at inquest hearing, that Watson was jealous of a relationship Tina had. Link to video interview with Tina's father and sister, shows some footage of renactment.
In dismissing his insurance claim case, Watson's attorney sites Australian investigation which caused Watson to "reasonably apprehend that he risks self-incrimination in this case." Watson's attorney added that Watson would not be voluntarily returning to Australia.
Report of Dr. Stutz' testimony, the eyewitness who saw Watson in a bear-hug with Tina. Dr. Stutz was being certified for advanced diver, he is an emergency room doctor. Dr. Stutz describes Tina as thrashing about oddly [perhaps supports theory of spasm due to oxygen deprevation, see 11/23/07 Couriermail story]. Stutz emphasizes that Tina being face-up is an unusual position for a diver and that she looked very scared, her arms out to her side like a crucifix. He thought Watson was going to help her as he was on top of her with his arms around her for about 30 seconds. Then the divers split and saw Watson head to the surface. He wanted to help, but his dive instructor made him stay with the group. He saw Singleton go after Tina and retrieve her from the bottom. He saw vomit coming from Tina's mouth and her eyes were open. He felt at that time she was not savable.
Days after Tina drowned, Watson told Tina's family on the phone, 'if the Australian authorities ever want me back (in Townsville), they will have to drag me kicking and screaming'. Watson promised Tina's family he would fly back with her body, but returned the day after. Watson told Tina's family that he and Tina had discussed what each of them would want for their funerals on the plane ride to Australia. Tina's family was not permitted to have anything to do with Tina's funeral arrangements. Tina's family never heard from Watson again.
Tina's dive instructor (Cleckler) testifies that Tina said "you don't understand.. I don't have any choice. My boyfriend will kill me if I don't get certified." Cleckler also stated that Tina was "probably the most panicked diver I have worked with." She panicked during training and bolted to the surface from 6 meters. He remembers thinking this girl should not be out there. Tina's best friend gives testimony of Watson's conflicting stories of what he told Tina's family and what he told the police. She also testified that Watson had picked-up his computer from the dive store and said that he was told he had put the batteries in backwards and the problem had been fixed. Tina teased Watson about it while they were packing for their trip. She also testified that Gabe had told her a month before the wedding that for an extra $10, Tina could have a million-dollar life insurance policy. Tina's father testifies that Watson had instructed Tina to up her insurance and make him the beneficiary. Tina's father told Tina to wait until she got back from the honeymoon.
Detective Flynn's account of video-taping Gabe Watson removing flowers from Tina's grave with
bolt-cutter; Watson addresses this behavior in deposition in his law suit against three named
insurance companies to collect insurance for Tina's death; report of testimony of Gabe Watson's dive instructor regarding Gabe's rescue dive training.
Link to full video of Watson removing flowers from Tina's grave: News videos - Caught on Film
Summary of testimony from divers on the Spoilsport with Watson, Kenneth Snyder and Dr. Douglas Milsap. These divers challenged Watson to his face the day of the incident saying "..that didn't happen." Primarily over Watson's assertion that Tina was too heavy to hang onto. Paula Snyder testified that Watson told her "she was looking at him and that he really hoped she didn't think he was leaving her there to die." Constable Koch examined Tina's equipment and testified that it was in very good working order.
Townsville police officer, Sgt. Glenn Lawrence testifies at inquest regarding overhearing Watson talking to Tina as she laid in the morgue 2 days after her death. He claims Watson said "I'm so sorry, I never meant to hurt you. I shouldn't have kept taking you down. I'm sorry. I couldn't stop." Sgt. Lawrence points out inconsistency in Watson's statement "if Mr Watson was moving slower than his bubbles [Watson statement] he would have made a controlled ascent. Mr Watson had claimed he `probably never swam so fast' [Watson statement]. Lawrence also stated that Watson claimed he made physical contact with another diver, but they could not find any diver to confirm.
Australian police prosecutors want to end plea bargaining by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) "to end the culture of backroom deals between lawyers at the expense of victims and their families.." concerned about "..hundreds of hours of preparation and investigative work by officers in a range of other cases that is being traded away in sleazy backroom deals.”
[NOTE] Watson's plea deal was negotiated with the DPP.
Watson filed insurance claim (travel insurance) three months after death of Tina. Claim was for $75,000+. Claim was for interruption of honeymoon, mental anguish, expense of loss of dives, medical and transportation expenses & punitive damages. Watson gave deposition in the case as to what happened. Insurance company challenged Watson on some elements of his case.
Police re-enactment of theory that Watson turned Tina's air off is presented at inquest based on testimony of eyewitness, Dr. Stutz. Dr. Stutz, an emergency room physician saw Tina Watson in considerable distress before seeing a diver surround her in a "bear-hug." He described Tina under him facing up, Watson on top of her facing downward. Tina's arms were stretched outward, Watson's arms encircling her. When the two divers separated, Tina's body is limp, she did not swim, Dr. Stutz did not see any bubbles. Constable Murdoch testifies that it took Watson 2 minutes and 30 seconds to reach the surface and that a safe rate of ascent would have been one minute and 18 seconds. Murdoch mentions perfect visibility. Murdoch talks about all the things Watson said was going through his mind to save Tina, but he didn't do them.
Report regarding testimony at inquest. Unknown witness claims Watson was playing cards in the salon on the Spoilsport and said "As you know, my wife died today. This really sucks." It was also testified to that Tina had air in her tank, equipment was in working order and her regulator was in her mouth. Starved of oxygen, she would have gone into hypoxia and spams. Witnesses claimed Watson said "I've lost my wife." Singleton's description of her lying on her back "staring up at the fish" and realizing that there were no bubbles - is a second indication that the regulator was in Tina's mouth. Dawn Osana is the diver in the foreground of the photograph. Watson was offered free airfare, meals, hotel to attend inquest, did not go.
Hypothesis that Watson turned off Tina's air is presented to the court. "She was held to that person's chest with her breathing apparatus pressed to his chest, preventing her from spitting out her regulator as usually happens when a diver is deprived of air." [This may be the explanation of why Tina was found to have the regulator in her mouth, rather than spitting it out due to overexertion and panic]. Pathologist, Prof. Williams did find air in Tina's lungs, but could not find any medical reason to explain her drowning. Prof. Williams testified that Tina had gas embolism that he believed was due to the rescue and resuscitation efforts.
Watson will not travel to Australia to testify at the coroner's inquest, but will give testimony via video link or telephone. Sgt. Detective Gary Campbell presented evidence at Coroner's Inquest, stating that Watson had given multiple reasons for not rescuing his wife, including ear problems, her sinking too fast and not knowing what to do to rescue her on the bottom. Stated it only took Wade Singleton half the time at twice the distance to retrieve Tina. Said there were contradictory medical statements about his ear problems. Gavin Docking of the Spoilsport gave testimony that the Watsons' had received a briefing about the currents.
[NOTE: Watson did not testify at inquest.]
FBI and Australian police execute search warrant on Watson's residence seizing computers and other materials. Life insurance of up to $1 million at-issue. Watson's attorney claims Watson has been undergoing therapy to deal with Tina's loss. Tina's family talks about a phone conversation with Watson hours after Tina's death. "He told us in that conversation that she was looking at him and she winked at him, and he had to make a split second decision to either go to the top for help or look after her. He was with her at 40 feet (12m) but he said he left her to go for help because she was descending. I said to him then, 'That's OK, she knew you were going for help'."