Ala. judge acquits man accused in honeymoon death

JAY REEVES Associated Press Published:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- A judge in Alabama has acquitted the man accused of drowning his newlywed wife during a honeymoon diving trip to Australia.

Circuit Judge Tommy Nail ruled Thursday in Birmingham that prosecutors failed to present enough evidence of a crime to send the case to jurors. He ended the two-week-long trial by acquitting 34-year-old Gabe Watson on his own.

Watson had faced a sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted of murdering his wife, Tina Thomas Watson, in 2003. He already served 18 months in an Australian prison after pleading guilty there to a manslaughter charge involving negligence.

Nail agreed with defense arguments that prosecutors failed to show Watson intentionally killed the woman. Prosecutors claimed he drowned her for insurance money, but the only eyewitness testified he thought Watson was trying to save the woman.