A Second Chance for Justice

Tina Thomas would have been turning 35 on the day that her husband of less than two weeks stood trial for her murder in the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama, US. Eight years and almost four months had passed since Tina died on her honeymoon, while scuba diving near the SS Yongala wreck on the Great Barrier Reef in Northern Queensland, Australia. During this period, there had been extensive police investigations conducted by local, state and federal agencies in Queensland and the United States; a coronial inquest; a ridiculed plea bargain; a successful appeal against the manifest inadequacy of a 12 month sentence; 18 months served in Borallon Correctional Centre in Queensland; a grand jury indictment in Alabama; several days spent in an Australian immigration detention centre; an international agreement not to seek the death penalty; a deportation and several pre-trial hearings - every step of which was covered by endless public, media and social commentary.

As the trial of Gabe Watson on a charge of capital murder for pecuniary gain began, so too did the possible final chapter in this tragic, drawn-out story. Monday 13 February 2012 provided the date for the commencement of Gabe’s capital murder trial in Alabama and the possibility that a second chance for justice could unfold... or could it?

This gripping new book written by criminologists, Dr Asher Flynn from Monash University’s School of Political and Social Inquiry and Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon from Deakin University provides a unique insight into the two prosecutions of Gabe Watson for the death of his wife, Tina. A Second Chance for Justice: The Prosecutions of Gabe Watson for the Death of Tina Thomas examines the legal responses to Tina's death in both the Queensland and Alabama jurisdictions, and in particular, considers questions surrounding the achievability of justice in this case from the perspectives of those directly involved. The book is informed by extensive interviews conducted with those intimately involved in the case, including members of the police, prosecution, defence counsel, and the victim and accused's families, as well as court observations of the capital murder trial in Alabama and the magnitude of legal documents compiled in both jurisdictions.

The analysis is placed within the context of external constraints that influenced the almost nine-year transnational investigation and prosecutions – including costs, delays, cultural differences, double jeopardy, dual sovereignty and jurisdiction, as well as the concerns surrounding the motivations informing the arguably controversial decisions made by authoritative members of the criminal justice system in both jurisdictions. It provides a balanced account of the case from the perspectives of the defence and the prosecution, to offer readers the opportunity to decide whether justice was achieved in either prosecution of Gabe Watson for the death of his wife, Tina Thomas.

The Authors

Dr Asher Flynn (left) is a lecturer in Criminology at Monash University.

Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon (right) is a lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University.

A Second Chance for Justice can be ordered from the following sites: