'Honeymoon Murder' Trial Motivated by Politics, Watson Family Alleges

PHOTO: Gabe Watson talks with his wife, Kim, after arriving at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Ala., Feb. 13, 2012, for jury selection in his trial.
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Was the Gabe Watson "honeymoon murder" trial motivated by politics? Or was a crusading attorney general seeking justice for the family of one of his constituents?

With the murder case against Watson dismissed by an Alabama judge last week, Watson and his family are now speaking out against former Alabama Attorney General Troy King, who presented the case to a grand jury while running for re-election.

"I felt like Troy King used (Tina Watson's family) as well as us to divert attention from his problems at the time," said David Watson, Gabe Watson's father.

King, meanwhile, maintains that the case against Gabe Watson was solid and deserved a jury verdict.

"The jury was fully capable of weighing this evidence and deciding if they believed that Gabe Watson was guilty or not," King said. "They were deprived of that opportunity."

King alleged that Watson killed his wife Tina while the newlyweds were on a honeymoon scuba diving trip in Australia in 2003. After Tina Watson's death, Gabe Watson pled guilty in an Australian court to a charge of negligent manslaughter for failing to save his wife. He served 18 months in an Australian jail, but he maintained his innocence at his U.S. murder trial.

While King was preparing his indictment against Watson, he was also running for re-election. King staged a media campaign slamming Watson, with campaign signs that read "Justice for Tina."

"With the attorney general being elected, and being able to basically direct the charge, or a trial, or convene a grand jury...that's what was at the root of it," Gabe Watson said.

King went on to lose his primary race against a Republican opponent and was not involved in the murder trial that began and ended earlier this month. But in a contentious interview with "20/20" co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas, King said he believed that the evidence against Watson pointed to his guilt.

Prosecutors had argued that Watson's motive for the killing was to collect a $33,000 life insurance benefit. Critics, including the judge in the case, have said that amount seemed too low to serve as motive for murder.

"People have said to me, 'Do you really think he would've killed her for this small amount of money?' I don't know. I mean, what is the amount of money that somebody will kill somebody for? People kill over tennis shoes. They kill over $100 in drug deals. But what is the amount of money that you've got to have at stake before somebody would commit murder?" King said.

As it turned out, it wasn't Watson who stood to collect the pay out. Tina's father, it was later learned, was the insurance beneficiary.

King said there was evidence that Watson believed he was the beneficiary. When pressed, however, King conceded that Tina's father was the only source of that information and his statements would be considered "hearsay."

Vargas also asked King why Watson would have gone through the trouble to plan Tina Watson's murder in Alabama -- as prosecutors had alleged -- without checking her insurance policy himself.

"I don't know what he would've done," King said. "I'm telling you what the prosecutors and the investigators believe. That's what you asked me. That's the answer."

Watch the full story on the "20/20" full episode now.

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