The father of the bride who was allegedly murdered by her new husband during their Australian scuba diving honeymoon said today that he wants justice for his daughter and that her accused killer is lying about what happened underwater.
Tommy Thomas, the father of Tina Watson, who was 26 when she died in 2003 while diving near the Great Barrier Reef, told "Good Morning America" that he wants to see his daughter's former husband held responsible for the death.
"What we want is for him to face the evidence for the very first time in front of a jury," Thomas said.
Watson was convicted and sentenced in Australia for manslaughter, and has completed an 18-month sentence.
But Alabama prosecutors are pursuing a murder case because they believe he planned his wife's death before leaving the states.
Watson, 33, was deported last week to the United States and was arrested and charged upon landing in Los Angeles. He appeared in court Tuesday before a Los Angeles judge who paved the way for his extradition to his home state of Alabama.
He has been charged with murder for monetary gain and kidnapping.
Thomas said his daughter's ex-husband, whom she had married 10 days before she died, has changed his story about what happened during their ominous scuba diving excursion.
"It became very evident very quickly that [Gabe Watson] was changing his story," Thomas alleged.
Watson, an experience diver, has maintained that his wife panicked and that he was unable to save her.
But Thomas said today that another diver who was with the newlyweds on the trip saw Watson ignoring Tina Watson's pleas for help, and prosecutors in the United State believe Watson, an experienced rescue diver, turned off his wife's oxygen tank in order to collect on her life insurance policy.
Underwater video captured her apparently lifeless body on the ocean's bottom.
Watson's attorney said his client has denied the U.S. charges despite pleading guilty to manslaughter in Australia.
"The standard of manslaughter that Gabe pled guilty to is a negligent manslaughter," attorney Brett Bloomston said. "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.
Deportation Agreement With Australia Means No Death Penalty Option for Gabe Watson
Bloomston said that Gabe Watson has since remarried. 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.
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 said.
Although 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 United States.
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 sent Watson to Alabama where he will likely face a new trial.