Accused murderer, prison escapee Curtis Watson makes 1st court appearance since his capture

Prosecutors considering asking for the death penalty

Accused murderer, prison escapee Curtis Watson makes 1st court appearance since his capture

HENNING, Tenn. (WMC) - Curtis Watson, the man accused of murdering a prison administrator before escaping prison, appeared by video in court Wednesday.

Watson led authorities on a five-day search before his capture Sunday.

According to Tennessee Department of Correction, Watson sexually assaulted and killed 64-year-old prison administrator Debra Johnson before escaping from West Tennessee State Penitentiary last Wednesday.

Graphic court documents were released Wednesday saying Johnson was found in her home on prison grounds laying on her bed.

He was captured in Henning after residents saw him on their surveillance video. Two female correctional officers took him into custody coming out of a soybean field hours later.

Watson now faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated sexual battery, especially aggravated burglary and escape.

District Attorney General Mark Davison says they’re looking into whether or not they may seek the death penalty.

Watson was being held in Tipton County at the request of the state. On Wednesday morning, authorities escorted him out of the jail in preparation for his hearing at the Lauderdale County Courthouse. He’ll be transported to Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville.

A preliminary hearing date has been set for Watson on Sept. 25 at 1:30 p.m. Defense attorneys asked for a forensic evaluation of Watson which will be performed by a mental health professional in the Tennessee Department of Correction.

Prosecutors say the death penalty remains on the table. And they’ve been in contact with Debra Johnson’s family in Nashville. Her visitation is set for Thursday and her funeral will be on Friday.

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