Prosecutors lost their bid to call a witness whose testimony they say showed newlywed Gabe Watson "had murder on his mind" while flying to Australia with his wife, Tina Thomas Watson, who then drowned on their honeymoon there.
As the Alabama attorney general's office suffered that setback in the capital murder case, Watson's defense team attacked an official from a scuba tour company for not giving an orientation to Tina, a novice diver, before going on the deadly dive in 2003.
The so-called "Honeymoon Scuba Death" trial resumed Wednesday with state prosecutors presenting their case against Watson, a 34-year-old bubble wrap salesman they accuse of scheming to drown Tina so he could collect on her life insurance policy. Defense attorneys have countered that she died accidentally near the Great Barrier Reef, because she was an inexperienced diver who panicked.
Tuesday's testimony of dive master Wade Singleton could strengthen the defense's argument. He testified that Tina didn't get a lesson on conditions near a shipwreck and that the guide company's staff didn't evaluate her abilities even though she was a beginner with 11 dives under her belt, the Associated Press reported.
Singleton also admitted that he didn't complete a mandatory company form stating that Tina wasn't skilled enough for the dive, WBRC reported. Mike Ball Dive Expeditions, Singelton's employer, was ultimately fined about $6,500 for violating Australian regulations.
Meanwhile, Judge Tommy Nail blocked the jury from hearing testimony from Alanda Thomas, Tina's sister. Prosecutors questioned her about a conversation she said she had with Watson about his flight to Australia with Tina. Thomas recalled that Watson said he'd talked about funeral arrangements for his new wife while they made the long trip to take their honeymoon, according to the AP.
Prosecutor Tina Hammond said the conversation showed Watson "had murder on his mind," the Birmingham News reported.
But Nail prevented the jury from hearing the testimony, citing that the alleged conversation was hearsay.
For prosecutors to convict Watson, they have to prove there was a connection with his home state, such as plotting Tina's murder before they departed on their honeymoon. He's already served 18 months after pleading guilty to negligent manslaughter in Australia. If convicted in his United States trial, he faces life in prison.
Thomas was permitted to tell jurors that Watson told her he was ready to move on with his life at Tina's funeral -- just two weeks after she drowned.
"He told me that I needed to realize that he had his time in Australia to grieve and he was over the grieving process," Thomas testified, according to the AP.
Watson told Thomas he wanted to collect some of Tina's possessions before the viewing of her body. During her testimony from the witness stand, she looked at her former brother-in-law several times. She said she hasn't spoken to him since Tina's funeral.
Tina and Alanda's father, Tommy Thomas, was in court yesterday. He left when the jury was shown photos of Tina's dead body, ABC News reported.
Watson, who has remarried, averted his eyes from the pictures of his first wife.
PHOTOS FROM THE "HONEYMOON SCUBA DEATH" ARCHIVES: