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Honeymooner Charged in Wife`s Australian Drowning Death
Aired July 4, 2008 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight: After a dream wedding, a romantic honeymoon featuring a couples dive trip turns deadly. There in the clear blue waters, far below the surface, the blushing bride sinks to the ocean floor. The brand-new groom makes it to the top to breathe the fresh air and then go home to collect what he believes will be a big, fat insurance check.
Tonight, just released, stunning video of the groom`s police interrogation emerges. And tonight, the bride`s family is with us live and taking your calls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From a fairy tale wedding to a nightmare honeymoon. Newlyweds Tina and Gabe Watson head out on a scuba diving adventure on the Great Barrier Reef. But just minutes later, the beautiful bride ends up dead on the bottom of the ocean. The suspected murderer, her husband of just 11 days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had shut off his bride`s air supply until she was either dead or near dead, according to the authorities in Australia, and only then did he go for help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators say Watson`s version of what happened Down Under doesn`t add up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gabe Watson told the police that he rocketed to the top of the surface to raise the alarm, but someone who was there on the scene said he rose very gradually and in a very controlled fashion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His air supply wasn`t stopped working, so he could just do whatever he wants. So he was breathing, so he would have been able to assist her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the motives out there in this murder mystery is money, specifically a life insurance policy. But one thing we know for sure tonight, an arrest warrant will be issued for Gabe Watson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re just one step closer...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One step closer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... to getting justice and peace for Tina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Straight out to Jim Faherty with WERC. Jim, what`s the latest?
JIM FAHERTY, WERC RADIO: Well, Nancy, it was in October of 2003. After getting married here in Alabama, Tina Watson and new husband, Gabe, departed for their honeymoon in Australia. Eleven days after they tied the knot, the Watsons went on a dive along Australia`s Great Barrier Reef. Gabe Watson was an experienced diver. In fact, he was a certified rescue diver. His wife, Tina, was a novice and Gabe was her diving buddy.
They were in about 40 feet of water when something happened. Gabe Watson says his wife, Tina, ran into a strong current and began to panic. Gabe Watson said that she tried to rip his mask off and that he was unable to bring her to the surface, so he decided to return to the surface for help while Tina Watson sank to the ocean floor, her arms outstretched toward her husband.
Gabe Watson said it was an accident, but after years of investigating, Australian authorities came to a very different conclusion. They`re charging Gabe Watson with murder.
GRACE: Joining me right now from Brisbane, Australia, Alison Fletcher with Channel 9 Network. You know, Alison, I`m having a hard time keeping up with the groom`s stories. Now we hear he claims she tried to rip his face mask off. What about his inner ear problems he had, that that made him go up to the top, go up to the surface? With about the strong currents? He said that made him go up to the surface. Which one is it? And how many more stories are there?
ALISON FLETCHER, CHANNEL 9 NETWORK: Well, Nancy, indeed, there are so many stories that the police are being told by Gabe Watson, 16 in total, 16 versions of events, which is just incredible. Now, as you said, some of them vary from the fact that Tina allegedly panicked, that they tried to swim against the current. But the suggestion that she -- that he couldn`t drag her to the surface or that he was having trouble with his own inner ear just doesn`t really add up.
Of course, if she was running out of air, then Gabe could have helped her with his own mask down there. She would have been weightless in the water. The suggestion that he was struggling to assist her really just didn`t seem to mesh with the police. And so they started pursuing this case, and they actually started reenacting what might have happened under the water to see whether it might have been possible for Gabe to kill his new bride underwater.
GRACE: What you are seeing right now is the reenactment that Alison Fletcher is telling us about. This is a very complicated procedure to reenact the very same circumstances, the conditions, the same location as the dive accident.
And the still photo we continue to show you, if you take a look at it, you`ll actually see the bride there, dying on the floor of the ocean. This was a photo taken by someone else, not realizing the bride was in the background.
I want to go out now to Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst and author. Dr. Bethany, I know you that have reviewed the wedding video. They had only been married 11 days when she died. It was their first full dive trip -- the coincidence that she would die on her first trip. Have you looked at the wedding video? Some people have noticed that she looks a little scared.
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: I have. And as this court case launches, what we`re going to find out about these two, I think, is that they fit the classic domestic abuse couples profile, where you get a power- hungry male who finds a vulnerable, frightened, weak woman with low self- esteem and preys on her.
But as she begins to get self-esteem and a backbone throughout the course of the marriage, he begins to retaliate. He wants nothing to do with her, wants to get rid of her, begins to have affairs, which we may also discover. But what ultimately perpetrators do is they try to get the other person to pay. So how did she pay? She paid with her life. She paid with her life insurance policy, or so he thought. And she paid by him killing her in this most intimate of settings, while giving her a bear hug, able to see the fear in her eyes.
GRACE: Back to Alison Fletcher with Channel 9 Network, joining us from Brisbane, Australia. A lot of people Stateside have been wondering what took so long for formal charges to come down, Alison.
FLETCHER: Well, it did take quite a while. I mean, it was about four-and-a-half years of investigating for senior detectives in Queensland to be able to get to the end point of the inquest. Now, initially, there were some delays, which we`re not sure of the reasons why. But then the fact that Gabe started telling so many different versions was one reason that investigators really had to be very, very thorough. They had to work through every one of those versions of events, and they had to make sure that when they took their case to the inquest that the coroner really would have no choice or no desire not to charge Gabe Watson with murder.
And that`s what happened because when the coroner handed down these findings and charged Gabe Watson, he said it was the most complete and detailed picture he`d ever seen in his role as coroner. So even though it took a long while and it`s been agonizing for Tina Watson`s family, it looks as though it`s paying off at this stage.
GRACE: And as it turns out, Watson actually gave several interviews with police. Take a listen to this stunning video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABE WATSON, HUSBAND: ... had both her arms out, you know, reached -- stretched up, you know, almost like looking at me, reaching her arms up to grab. So I kind of upended myself, you know, head first. And I remember going down, you know, reaching, and at this point, I was thinking, you know, I`m going to grab ahold of her.
I knew, you know, when I saw it, that he wasn`t coming to tell me, you know, Everything`s fine, she`s just got a headache or something. You know, and he walked over and said, I don`t have good news. I did everything I could, but we lost her. And you know, I -- you know, just -- pretty much lost it. So they arranged that and I went to see her. It`s the worst thing I`ve ever experienced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Did everything you could? You`re seeing video from MSNBC.com and Townsville police of Australia. That`s Gabe Watson just after the drowning death of his brand-new bride. Now, at one point, he has no emotion whatsoever. The next clip, we see where he`s hiding his face and not looking up.
Let`s unleash the lawyers. Joining us tonight, veteran defense attorney in the New York area Mickey Sherman. Also joining us, defense attorney and host of "Closing Arguments" on WGNY Michael Mazzariello.
Mickey Sherman -- I was reaching out. I was going to grab her. What happened, Mickey? Why didn`t he grab her?
MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, first of all, nobody else was down there with him, other than her. I mean...
GRACE: Actually, there were. There was a witness that states he bear-hugged her and then she fell to the bottom of the ocean.
SHERMAN: Well, then, why did it take them four-and-a-half years to decide that that`s enough evidence to...
GRACE: Well, I think I know why. Mickey, I don`t know if you`re a diver...
GRACE: ... but I got to tell you, every time I have ever dived, there have been a group of people from all over the world on that dive boat. And the Australian police actually went and tracked down every single person on the dive trip from all over the world, interviewed them and interviewed everybody on the boat before they...
SHERMAN: And that took four-and-a-half years?
GRACE: I don`t know.
SHERMAN: I mean...
GRACE: but I do know that they did that. But quit blaming police. I`m asking you.
GRACE: The question is -- I did everything I could to save her. She reached up to me. What happened? Did she slip through his fingers like sand through the hourglass? What happened?
SHERMAN: It`s an inherently dangerous sport. I`ve been diving for 25 years, as well. That`s why insurance is so difficult when you`re running a trip like that. But the problem is that you`ve got people who are giving statements who were not looking to see whether or not someone is committing a crime. They`re enjoying themselves.
GRACE: No, no, no, no.
SHERMAN: They`re diving. These are not the greatest witnesses in the world.
GRACE: I`m not asking you about them, Mickey.
GRACE: Excellent redirection. But my question is, he said, I reached out to grab her and save her. And then suddenly, he`s talking about his inner ear problem.
SHERMAN: But didn`t we...
GRACE: What happened to the saving part?
SHERMAN: Didn`t we just hear that he has given 46 different statements?
SHERMAN: Sixteen different statements. That means he`s been interviewed at least 16 times by the authorities.
GRACE: I don`t know that that`s what that means, Michael Mazzariello. For all I know, that means he could have given a different statement to his sister, to the hotel clerk, to the people on the dive ship. That doesn`t necessarily mean different statements to police.
MICHAEL MAZZARIELLO, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, prior inconsistent statements will come back to haunt you.
MAZZARIELLO: That`s why you should have an attorney present when you make the statement. Nancy, anything could have happened, like Mickey said. His ear could have started up on him. But what bothers...
GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa. No, no, I`ve got to...
MAZZARIELLO: What bothers...
GRACE: Show me Mazzariello`s face. OK. So just imagine this. Elizabeta (ph), your beautiful wife, is sinking to the bottom of the ocean and you, Michael Mazzariello, say, Owie, my ear hurts!
GRACE: I think I`ll swim to the top and have some Sudafed.
GRACE: Do you really think that`s what happened?
MAZZARIELLO: I am going to agree...
GRACE: The camera`s on you.
SHERMAN: I am going to agree with the taxicab driver that the reporter just said, I would die with my wife. But that`s not everybody.
GRACE: Now you want your cake. You want to eat your cake.
MAZZARIELLO: Nancy, you know what bothers me here? Here we are...
GRACE: Pick one!
MAZZARIELLO: Here we are in Australia. Everyone dives. Diving is a prominent sport here. They must have thought that this was a fishy story from the beginning. What troubles me is no arrest was made. Witnesses` statements weren`t accumulated. Now a lapse of time. That`s reasonable doubt right there. Unfortunately here, this story shouldn`t have flown and it did...
GRACE: That`s why there`s no statute of limitations on a murder case.
MAZZARIELLO: True, true.
GRACE: So both of you totally avoid the question.
I`m going to go back to Jim Faherty with WERC. Maybe I`m the one with the hearing problem. Liz, could you cue that police interrogation up again for me again so I can hear this again? Take a listen to this, Jim Faherty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: ... had both her arms out, you know, reached -- stretched up, you know, almost like looking at me, reaching her arms up to grab. So I kind of upended myself, you know, head first. And I remember going down, you know, reaching, and at this point, I was thinking, you know, I`m going to grab ahold of her.
I knew, you know, when I saw it, that he wasn`t coming to tell me, you know, Everything`s fine, she`s just got a headache or something. You know, and he walked over and said, I don`t have good news. I did everything I could, but we lost her. And you know, I -- you know, just -- pretty much lost it. So they arranged it and I went to see her. It`s the worst thing I`ve ever experienced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: "The worst thing I`ve ever experienced." I thought she had a headache. You`re seeing video from MSNBC.com and Townsville police there in Australia. That`s Watson, just after the drowning death of his brand- new bride. Now, at one juncture, lots of emotion. Another juncture, he`s basically hiding his face. No emotion.
Jim Faherty -- I thought maybe she had a headache? She`s dead on the ocean floor. He left her there. She`s a novice diver. A headache? He thought she had a headache? Have I lost my mind?
FAHERTY: It`s amazing, Nancy. I mean, and this recording happened just within days of the drowning death. And if you listen to his voice, totally monotone, emotional detachment. I mean, it`s like he was maybe discussing a sports game he was watching on television, not the death of his newlywed wife. Where`s the emotion? Where`s the sense of being distraught? He doesn`t break down at any point that we can tell.
GRACE: And very quickly to Bethany Marshall. Did you notice him -- if I had had a defendant on the stand hiding their face like that -- I mean, what does that convey to you, Bethany, quickly?
MARSHALL: Well, in domestic homicide, usually, the perpetrator has a relief face after the commission of a homicide because they`re glad the other person is dead. So during the interview, they have to fall back on trite, stereotyped, shallow expressions, like, She slipped through my fingers. And somebody who is really sorry that they didn`t save another person blames themself, not the other. They say, What`s wrong with me I couldn`t save her, not, What`s wrong with her that she slipped through my fingers.
GRACE: Joining me now, Dr. Joshua Perper, renowned medical examiner out of the Miami jurisdiction and author of "When to Call the Doctor." Dr. Perper, explain to me exactly what the body goes through, what someone suffers when they are starved of oxygen, when they drown.
DR. JOSHUA PERPER, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Well, a lot of things happen. Basically, the lack of oxygen affects the brain. They may have bleeding from the ears. They may be confused. And in this particular case, considering the depth, probably she died within minutes from lack of oxygen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The wife, 26-year-old Tina, novice diver. She hadn`t done this kind of thing before. And her autopsy reveals no medical cause of death. In other words, it wasn`t a heart condition or something like that. They also looked at her diving equipment. It was fine, not faulty.
Take a look at this picture. It is completely chilling. You can see the final moments there, taken by another member of the diving expedition. Well, a witness says that the newlyweds were locked in some sort of embrace at the depth of 49 feet, and that was right before he headed up to the surface and she sank to the ocean floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: The honeymoon murder mystery. Newlyweds married just 11 days fly off to a romantic honeymoon at the world-renowned destination the Great Barrier Reef. Then on their very first extended dive, the bride drowns in the crystal clear waters while the groom swims to safety. What happened to the new bride under the sea?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s what we want is justice for our daughter and peace.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tina Watson`s family is a step closer to that reality. Reacting to the Australian coroner`s decision, they say they are relieved. Gabe Watson originally told police Tina got caught in strong currents and panicked. Her father believed otherwise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually had a diver that was on the "Spoilsport" with them that came to see me. And he asked me to relay the story that I was told. And after I relayed what I was told to him, he told me that that didn`t happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Detectives raided Watson`s home in April 2007. A computer and bags of evidence were taken away to be presented during the hearing in Queensland this spring. Testimony that followed suggested Watson turned off his wife`s air supply and let her sink.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You never think that your daughter will leave for her honeymoon and her husband will kill her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could not reach Watson for comment, but his attorney tells us he is very disappointed in the coroner`s decision and feels it is totally incorrect. Helena Sergeant Brad Flynn, the lead U.S. investigator on the case, feels differently and hopes the murder charge is a step toward closure.
SGT. BRAD FLYNN, HELENA POLICE DEPARTMENT: A culmination of four-and- a-half years` worth of hard work that all we wanted is this case to be tried in front of an Australian jury.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: When we come back, accidental drowning or murder? The honeymoon scuba diving death of a newlywed bride, Tina Watson.
GRACE: Gabe Watson claims his new bride had sudden problems with her diving gear and panicked. He claims he swam to the surface to get help, all the while his, wife sinking to the bottom of the ocean. But police say Watson`s story is full of holes. A lengthy investigation, including witness accounts and a stunning underwater reenactment, finally leads to murder charges.
To Alison Fletcher joining us from Brisbane, Australia. What is the maximum he can get in Australia?
FLETCHER: Well, Nancy, the maximum in Australia for a murder charge is life imprisonment. It all depends on whether he`s given parole or early release from that sentence in the years to come. But automatically, if he`s found guilty of murder, it is a life sentence.
GRACE: So you guys don`t have the death penalty.
FLETCHER: No, we don`t have the death penalty over here. We just have automatic life imprisonment in one of Queensland jails. So I guess it depends on what happens with that extradition process. But no death penalty in Australia.
GRACE: Now, if they get life with parole, about how long would they serve?
FLETCHER: Well, it changes case by case, Nancy, but you wouldn`t see anyone getting out before, say, 10 years. But some people do serve that whole life imprisonment and a no parole issue is ordered. It depends on what is issued, but there are cases where people do get out earlier. I guess it all depends on what the judge finds in this particular case, should Gabe be found guilty of murder.
GRACE: Now, and very quickly -- Alison Fletcher joining us from Brisbane, Australia. Alison, do you have the jury system like Great Britain?
FLETCHER: Well, the way our injury jury system works is we have a panel of 12 jurors that are selected from the public. The prosecution and defense both get chances to object to different jurors as their numbers are called up. They are just members of the public who are picked in a random ballot draw, as you would say. They have to appear in that court for whatever period of time the trial goes for.
Now, they`re not locked away each night unless there`s a specific order for that to be so. They`re just ordered not to communicate with anyone else about the trial. Then of course, once the trial wraps up and they have to make their decision, then they get locked away and then they basically stay together until they`ve made up their mind.
GRACE: Alison, that`s incredibly like our system here in the U.S. We also mimic the Great Britain system from our common law...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About two-and-a-half years after it happened, we made a trip to Australia, which was our second trip, really to try to get some movement in the investigation because two-and-a-half years, I was beginning to get worried that people`s memory fade. People get misplaced, especially when you look at the fact that there were three boats at the site where it happened and I believe in excess of 100 people, crew members and passengers, amongst those three boats. And I knew that the police had a really unbelievable task ahead of them in locating all of those witnesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: After a dream wedding, a romantic honeymoon featuring a couples` dive trip turns deadly. The blushing bride sinks to the ocean floor. The groom, he makes it to the top.
What happened when the newlywed bride sunk to the ocean floor?
Her family is with us.
Joining us tonight are two very special guests. With us is Tina Watson`s father, Tommy Thomas. Also along with us, Tina`s sister, Alanda Thomas.
To both of you, thank you for being with us.
TOMMY THOMAS, FATHER OF BRIDE TINA WATSON: Thank you for having us.
GRACE: Mr. Thomas, I know that you and your daughter, your whole family are completely destroyed by her death. And first of all, I want to offer you our prayers and our sympathy.
I remember when I learned to dive, my first open water dive was one of the scariest things I`ve ever done. When she went away to Australia, Mr. Thomas, and you knew that she was going on a dive trip, were you concerned?
T. THOMAS: Very concerned. This was something that I had never dreamed that she would want to do.
GRACE: Had she ever mentioned it before she started dating the suspect?
T. THOMAS: Absolutely not. She began taking diving lessons in January of `03 when they were dating. And it was actually before they got engaged. But when she first told me about it, I was really surprised, sort of taken aback. And I asked her why in the world she would want to take diving lessons, because she just wasn`t the athletic type. She was more of a girlie girl and liked to shop and do the things that girls do. She was a romantic.
She just wasn`t the athletic type. And she told me that Gabe had told her that if she wanted him to do the things that she liked to do, that she needed to do what he liked to do. And he liked to dive, so she needed to take diving lessons.
GRACE: So he told her she need to learn to dive for their relationship?
T. THOMAS: That`s correct. And, actually, a month or so later when I met him and he was going to speak with me about asking for her hand in marriage, he actually told me the same thing.
GRACE: He said what?
T. THOMAS: I told him that I really wasn`t happy with the diving lessons, I didn`t think that it was a thing that Tina had ever wanted to do. I didn`t particularly consider it all that safe. And I had the impression that she really wasn`t enjoying it that much.
And I asked him about it. And he basically told me the same thing that she had told me, that, you know, there were things that she liked to do. And if she wanted him to do them with her that she needed to do what he liked to do. And he liked to dive.
GRACE: Well, I`ve got to tell you, Mr. Thomas -- with me tonight is not only the bride`s father, but her sister, very dear to her, both of them.
Mr. Thomas, my family begged me, please do not dive, please do not go to the other side of the world to dive, don`t do this to us. But I was trying to overcome a fear of water. I nearly drowned when I was a little girl. And I wanted to learn how to dive.
And I`ve got to tell you, the first time at the bottom of the YMCA pool when I learned to dive, you have to take off your mask totally underwater and stay there and then put the mask back on and clear all the water out and resume breathing. It`s one of the scariest things I`ve ever done.
And I`m just imagining if she was scared, too, her instructor, Cleckler -- Craig Cleckler -- recalls she was petrified. She was in four feet of water and she was holding on to the pier, she was so afraid when she was learning to dive, Mr. Thomas.
T. THOMAS: That`s correct. That`s the evidence that we heard. And I had not heard that before we went to the colonial hearing. But that`s the evidence that Mr. Cleckler gave at the colonial hearing as well. And it was quite shocking for us, because we had questioned Tina about it quite a bit.
I mean, I just -- I really wanted her to stop doing it. And she kept telling us that she had to do it. And then it was a thing of she started telling us that, you know, she was liking part of it. And to me, it was more like she was just telling me that because she knew that I was concerned.
GRACE: Well, to you, Alanda -- with us is Tina`s sister -- I noticed that when the dive instructor said, you`re so afraid, why are you doing this, she said, if I don`t do it, my boyfriend will kill me. Did you hear that, Alanda?
ALANDA THOMAS, SISTER OF BRIDE TINA WATSON: She never told that to me. But I have heard that as part of the evidence.
GRACE: What was their relationship like, Alanda?
A. THOMAS: It was -- to me, it was worrisome. I didn`t think that he treated her like she deserved to be treated. I don`t think that he treated her with respect most of the time.
GRACE: For instance? What`s an example?
A. THOMAS: Well, just every time that she was, say, with me, I mean, he constantly called, would call one right after the other after the other until she finally would answer the phone. And then you could tell on the other end that he was not happy with her. And she would always get off the phone upset and the same instances.
If she was on the phone with him and you were to step in a room and say something to her, he would hang up the phone on her.
GRACE: He`d hang up the phone on her?
A. THOMAS: Yes, because someone else was speaking to her.
GRACE: Hey, listen, don`t get me wrong. I`m not saying because they argued or he hung up the phone on her that that is evidence of a murder.
A. THOMAS: Right.
GRACE: I`m just trying to find out what kind of relationship they had.
Mr. Thomas, when you first -- first of all, how did you learn your girl had died in a dive accident on her honeymoon?
T. THOMAS: I was in Tallahassee, Florida working with one of our local office management teams and received a call at 8:36 that morning from Gabe`s father, David.
GRACE: So the father called you? The groom did not call you?
T. THOMAS: That is correct. David called. I answered the phone. And the conversation was, Tommy, are you at the office or are you still at the hotel? I said, I`m at the office. He then asked.
GRACE: Did you know at that moment when he said that, you did you suspect something was wrong?
T. THOMAS: Honestly, no.
GRACE: OK. What happened?
T. THOMAS: The next thing he said is, are you alone or are there people around? And I remember thinking -- a thought going through my mind, where is this going? And I said, well, I`m in the office. People are around, but I can talk. And he said, I don`t know any other way of telling you this. There`s been an accident, Tina drowned. Here`s my preacher. And he handed the phone to his pastor.
GRACE: Alanda, when did you learn your sister had drowned on her honeymoon?
A. THOMAS: I actually had went to work that morning on the 22nd, and I walked into where me and Tina both worked together. And everyone was looking at me in disbelief. And someone finally took me and took me to the store manager. And he told me that Tina had been in an accident and I needed to get ahold of one of my parents. And that`s how I found out.
GRACE: Everyone, with me tonight are the parents of a beautiful girl who was afraid -- she was afraid, but yet she was incredibly brave. She went ahead and completed these classes and then went all the way to the Great Barrier Reef at the urging of her groom-to-be.
Back to Mr. Thomas -- Mr. Thomas, when she died that day, was that her first open water dive?
T. THOMAS: It was her first dive in salt water, to my understanding. But she had -- she had been diving at blue water. And I think that`s considered as open water diving.
GRACE: Correct. The day when she died, Mr. Thomas, was that the first dive trip of the vacation? Was that the first time they had gone down underwater?
T. THOMAS: It was actually the first stop for the dive trip. Depending on the evidence, I mean, Gabe had told us that it was their very first dive. They had actually gone in for a very brief minute to minute and a half dive prior to that dive, I found out later, and had surfaced up because he had said that his computer was beeping.
He didn`t tell me that. I found that in evidence.
GRACE: Mr. Thomas, have you seen this video of his police interrogation? Have you read his various I inconsistencies in what he said?
T. THOMAS: We were in Townsville, Australia for the entire colonial hearing and, yes, I did.
GRACE: What do you make of it?
T. THOMAS: You know, when we went to Townsville for the colonial hearing, I actually thought that I knew most of what we were going to hear. And we were confronted with the two statements that he made to police, his civil deposition under oath in his civil case in Alabama with Travel Ex and Old Republic Insurance.
And I just -- I really could not believe the contradictions and inconsistencies from one statement to the next compared to what we were told.
GRACE: What was the biggest one you recall?
T. THOMAS: There were several. So as far as the biggest, I really didn`t rank them.
GRACE: I understand.
T. THOMAS: It`s just shocking to hear the contradictions.
GRACE: Alanda, what did you think? Alanda, what did you think?
Everyone, they traveled all the way to Australia for the hearing.
What struck you as the most I inconsistent, Alanda?
A. THOMAS: There was a lot. I wasn`t actually there in person to hear it. I have read through them, though. But one of the main ones, I would say, is how from the first time he spoke to the police to the second, he had changed his story about the currents.
GRACE: Well, you know, it`s really interesting that -- you`re seeing, everyone, a shot that another couple took underwater. And speaking from experience, when you have a strong current, nobody is taking underwater photos, all right? That`s -- that about the current, I`m telling you simply is not true.
Tonight, at your request, pictures of the twins. I`ll be posting these on the Web tonight. I hope you like them.
GRACE: After a dream wedding, a romantic honeymoon featuring a couple`s dive trip turns deadly. Far below the surface of the clear blue waters, the new bride sinks to the ocean floor. The groom, he swims up to the surface.
People keep saying, why did it take so long? That was my initial reaction. What took so long?
But the reality is, in a drowning death, it`s very difficult to show was it an accident or was it a homicide. So just getting the autopsy report was not sufficient to prove this case.
This is a case, in their defense -- and believe me, if I didn`t believe this, I wouldn`t be telling you -- in their defense, this is the kind of case that takes a long time to put together. It really does. It`s a totally circumstantial case. And circumstantial evidence is just as strong as direct evidence, but it takes longer to obtain it.
So your focus has been on this portion, correct?
T. THOMAS: Absolutely, Nancy. And the fact of the matter is there was also the challenges that the Queensland police service faced with the fact that there were three boats in the area with divers that day. The Adrenaline was a third boat. And the divers were just beginning to go in the water.
There was the Spoil Sport, which had been there overnight and then there was the Jazz II, which had come up at the last moment after Gabe and Tina were already in the water and anchored and put divers in the water immediately because it`s a day-tripper.
The fact of the matter is that the Queensland police service had the challenge of actually having to locate each one of those divers as well as the crew members from those three boats and interview each one on numerous occasions. And part of that challenge was the fact that they were from all over the world. They were from Korea.
GRACE: All over the world.
T. THOMAS: Right. Korea, South Africa, Israel.
T. THOMAS: . Europe, United States.
GRACE: But they did it.
T. THOMAS: But they did it.
GRACE: And it sounds like they put together everything they`ve got.
Steve Bielinda, certified scuba instructor, he`s an expert witness all over the country -- Steve, the more I hear of what he said, the worse his story is getting. It`s stinking more and more every time I hear him say something else.
To claim you can`t rescue somebody at 50 feet? That`s nothing. That`s like skipping down the hall 50 feet. You can`t pull somebody up? They are weightless underwater at 50 feet. And another thing, Steve Bielinda, he says he skyrocketed with buoyancy control -- you can push a button and your vest blows up with air -- that he skyrocketed up to the top.
His dive computer says it took him three minutes. He paddled his way up to the top.
STEVE BIELINDA, CERTIFIED SCUBA INSTRUCTOR: I think he actually floated up. I don`t think he actually paddled up. I think he just drifted up to the surface.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSSELL JACKSON, MEDICAL MARVEL: There`s a lot of folks that are going without in this country. I found that people of all races were suffering from poverty. The rural areas, there are no cabs. There are no busses. Millions of children have no access to medical care when they need to reach it.
I made the decision that I was going to leave my job as a firefighter and I was going to start driving kids to the doctor full time.
I`m Russell Jackson and I make sure that thousands of Alabama`s rural children get to the doctor.
How`s everybody doing this morning? All right. We are ready to head into the doctor.
The volume of phone calls in the first year was beyond anything that I had expected. Families saw our vehicles and would call in and say, (INAUDIBLE) what are you doing? And they would sometimes cry or they just shout with joy, you know, hallelujah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without it, we would be lost and always depending on a ride.
JACKSON: When I started the program it was just myself and my little Chevy Blazer and I`d drive up and met that first young man with that million- dollar smile.
Look at you, how big you`ve gotten. Golly, how are you, mom?
How are you, sweetie?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
JACKSON: Good to see you all.
(INAUDIBLE) had never talked, he never walked. I saw so many lives changed. So many determined children and parents who wanted to beat the odds to know that they beat it all because of simple ride that how many other kids around the country aren`t experiencing the same success stories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: "CNN HEROES" is sponsored by.
GRACE: Let`s stop and remember Army Corporal Chad Groepper, 21, Kingsley, Iowa, killed, Iraq. Adventurous, loved extreme sports, snowboarding, dirt bike, four wheeling, , scuba diving and restoring cars. Leaves behind parents Darcy and Davis, sisters Danae(ph) and Abby, widow Stephanie, and baby girl, Clarissa.
Chad Groepper, American hero.
Army Sergeant Gary Willett, 34, Alamogordo, New Mexico, killed, Iraq, on a second tour. Lived life to the fullest. Loved the army, Calvin and Hobbes comics, handing out toys and candies to Iraqi children.
Leaves behind mom Vivian, Vivian`s step-dad Patrick, brother Willie, sister Renee, and 9-year-old son Zeno.
Garry Willett, American hero.
Army Corporal Michael Manibog, 31, Alameda, California, killed, Iraq. Kind-hearted, the life of the party, devoted to friends, loved taking his son to Chucky Cheese, bowling, playing basketball, cooking especially Filipino dishes.
Leaves behind parents, three sisters, two brothers, 9-year-old son, Terrell.
Army Corporal Luke Runyan, 21, Spring Growth, Pennsylvania, killed, Iraq. Awarded the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, saved an Iraqi boy in the line of fire.
Loved hunting, motorcycles, surfing. Leaves behind parents Mark and Lynette, widow, Courtney, and 1-year-old daughter, Brand.
Luke Runyan, American hero.
Army Captain Nathan Raudenbush, 25, Earl Township, Pennsylvania, killed, Iraq. A Boy Scout and Widener University grad. Loved making others smile, family picnics, favorite meal, mom`s pork chops.
Leaves behind parents Bryan and Mary, sister Jennifer, widow Casey, baby boy, Jackson.
Nathan Raudenbush, American hero.
Army Major Dwayne Kelley, 48, South Orange, New Jersey, killed, Iraq. On a third tour, a Rutgers grad and 20-year decorated veteran of the New Jersey State Police. Served the counterterrorism unit. Fluent in Arabic, loved New York Knicks, American Indian and Arabic food. Leaves grieving mom Vera, widow Manita and two daughters.
Dwayne Kelley, American hero.
Thanks to our guest but especially to you for being with us and inviting us into your home. I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Happy July the 4th. Until tomorrow night, good night, friends.