(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — The judge presiding over the so-called honeymoon killer trial dismissed murder charges against Gabe Watson after the prosecution completed its case Thursday.
The charges were dismissed before the defense presented a single witness.
Watson, 34, was charged with killing Tina Watson in 2003 during an Australian honeymoon 11 days after they were married.
Prosecutors had claimed that Watson had shut off his wife’s air supply while scuba diving off of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, then turned the air back on after she had died. The motive, prosecutors claimed, was to collect on her life insurance and her possessions.
The prosecution rested its case Thursday after two weeks of testimony. Defense lawyer Brett Bloomstom immediately made a motion to dismiss the case for lack of evidence, and Judge Tommy Nail agreed that the prosecution had failed to prove that Watson had killed his wife.
Watson’s lawyer Brett Bloomstom said his client “hopes this will be the end of this case and that it will be put behind them.”
Prosecutor Don Valeska said there is no appeal of the judge’s ruling. “Judge Nail did what he thinks is right. I strongly disagree with him. I’m extremely stunned and at a loss for words,” Valeska said.
Gabe Watson claims his wife panicked and when he went to help her, she accidentally knocked his mask and regulator off. By the time he recovered, she had drifted out of his reach.
Watson had pleaded guilty to negligent manslaughter in Australia for failing to save her and spent 18 months in prison. Alabama tried him for murder, claiming the alleged crime was plotted in the U.S.
If convicted, Watson could have been sentenced to life in prison.
Watson has since remarried.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Eliza Mackintosh, CNN
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN