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David Gabriel Watson, Ala. Man, Could Face Murder Charges In U.S. For Wife's Australia Scuba Death

Ala. Man, David Gabriel Watson, May Face Murder Charges In U.S. For Wife's Scuba Death
David Gabriel Watson, left, and Christina Mae Watson June 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Townsville Coroners Court, HO)

SYDNEY (CBS/AP) Alabama man David Gabriel Watson could face murder charges in the U.S. for allegedly drowning his wife during a honeymoon scuba dive on Australia's Great Barrier Reef in 2003.

Watson, 32, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in June 2009 and is serving an 18-month jail term in Queensland state in the death of 26-year-old Tina Watson, his wife of only 11 days.

Watson is set to be released in November and will most likely be deported to the U.S.

Alabama Attorney General Troy King believes the newlywed's death was premeditated, claiming that Watson formulated a plan in Alabama to kill his wife on their honeymoon, which would give Alabama jurisdiction to try him. King also says there are no international standards on double jeopardy that prevent the U.S. state from charging Watson a second time in the case.

Queensland officials gave Alabama prosecutors some evidence from the case earlier this year and recently agreed to relinquish all documents to prosecutors under one condition: that Watson not face the death penalty.

Under Australia's Extradition Act, a person cannot be deported to face prosecution on a capital charge, unless there is an assurance the death penalty will not be imposed. Queensland Attorney General Cameron Dick said a promise from King "satisfied his concerns" that Watson would not face the death penalty.

"Queensland has always been willing to cooperate with Alabama authorities on this matter. However, we also had to ensure that our actions were consistent with Australia's long-standing opposition to the death penalty," said Dick.

But Tina Watson's father, Tommy Thomas, felt differently. He repeatedly accused Queensland authorities of neglecting the Alabama investigation and was appalled by Watson's initial sentencing.

"It's an embarrassment to everyone involved. We believe that Gabe Watson murdered our daughter," Thomas said last year following the verdict.

Watson was to stand trial in the Queensland Supreme Court for murder, which carried a potential sentence of life in prison, until the prosecution accepted the guilty plea to the lesser charge. The manslaughter plea was accepted on the basis that Watson, an experienced diver, failed in his duty as Tina's dive buddy by not giving her emergency oxygen.

According to Queensland Coroner David Glasgow, a possible motive for the killing was Tina Watson's modest life insurance policy.

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