Gabe Watson Charged With Wife's Scuba-Diving Murder After Return to U.S.

American Gabe Watson in custody seven years after wife's scuba diving death.

Byandrea Canning, Sarah Neter, Russell Goldman And Nikki Battiste
November 25, 2010, 11:56 AM

Nov. 26, 2010— -- The American known as the "Honeymoon Killer" has been charged in the U.S. with his newlywed wife's murder seven years after she died on an Australian scuba diving trip.

Gabe Watson, 33, was already convicted and sentenced in Australia for the crime. He was deported to the United States on Thursday and was arrested as soon as he stepped off the plane in Los Angeles.

But his attorney said Watson is denying the charges despite pleading guilty to manslaughter in Australia.

"The standard of manslaughter that Gabe pled guilty to is a negligent manslaughter," attorney Brett Bloomston told "Good Morning America" today. "Basically he pled guilty of being a bad dive buddy."

"He accepted responsibility for his limited role and that's not being able to save Tina as she drowned," he said.

Tina Watson, 26, died in 2003 while scuba diving near Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Bloomston said today that Gabe Watson has since re-married. His new wife, who he married nearly five years after Tina Watson's death, is a school teacher in Birmingham, Ala.

"His new wife is very stoic," he said. "She's a very sweet girl."

And, he added, she's standing by her husband.

But prosecutors in the U.S. believe Watson, an experienced rescue diver, turned off his wife Tina Watson's oxygen tank in order to collect on her life insurance policy. Underwater video captured her apparently lifeless body on ocean's bottom.

Bloomston called the alleged motive "ludicrous" and said that the beneficiary of Tina Watson's life insurance policy was her father, not her husband.

"Why would anybody travel halfway across the world and take their young bride of 11 days scuba diving to kill her in front of 60 other divers?" he questioned.

His U.S. arrest, his late wife's family said, that's been a long time coming.

"You never think your daughter will leave for her honeymoon and her husband will kill her," Tina Watson's mother, Cindy Thomas, told ABC News in 2008.

Deportation Agreement With Australia Means No Death Penalty Option for Gabe Watson

Though Watson pleaded guilty and spent 18 months in an Australian prison on a reduced manslaughter charge, Alabama prosecutors have argued that there are no international rules on double jeopardy. They say Watson can be tried again because they believe he planned his wife's death before leaving the U.S.

The couple had been married just 11 days before the incident occurred. At the time of the tragedy, Watson told authorities his wife panicked underwater and he couldn't save her.

Autopsy results found no pre-existing medical condition that could have explained the women's death and tests indicated that there was nothing wrong with her diving gear

Australia delayed Watson's deportation, because the country, a staunch opponent of capital punishment, feared that if reconvicted in Alabama, Watson would face the death penalty.

Only after the U.S. government pledged it would not impose a death sentence, did Australia agree to repatriate him.

Los Angeles police took Watson into custody upon clearing customs. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, earlier this week signed an extradition order, which would send Watson to Alabama where he will likely face a new trial..

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events