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February 3rd, 2012
04:39 PM ET

Accused 'honeymoon killer' Gabe Watson to stand trial years after wife's death

A trial date has been set for May for an Alabama man accused of killing his wife during their honeymoon in Australia. David Gabriel "Gabe" Watson is scheduled to face murder and kidnapping charges February 13 in an Alabama courtroom, court officials said.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Australian media dubbed Watson "The Honeymoon Killer" after his 26-year-old wife, Tina, died October 22, 2003, while the two were diving at a historic shipwreck off the Great Barrier Reef.

In Australia, where the case has received huge media coverage, The Australian reports at least nine Australian witnesses – including Queensland police officers, members of the Spoilsport dive vessel and Queensland coroner's forensic pathologist Dr David Williams – are expected to give evidence at the trial, which could take up to one month to complete:

The trial is expected to be emotionally-charged, with Judge Tommy Nail telling the prosecution and Watson's legal teams at a preliminary hearing last month to "quit acting like children and act more like adults" after receiving letters from both sides.

"Any case of this magnitude is going to have inflamed passions on both sides," Watson's attorney, Joe Basgier, said.

Watson has already spent 18 months in prison in Australia after pleading guilty to manslaughter–part of a deal with prosecutors.

In Alabama, Watson will be accused of killing his wife "with the desire for profit," according to a court filing. Watson allegedly encouraged his wife to buy insurance before her death.


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