Pandemic delays trial for Tennessee inmate accused of killing prison administrator

Pandemic delays trial for Tennessee inmate accused of killing prison administrator
TBI agents take Curtis Watson into custody. (Source: TBI)

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - A Tennessee inmate accused of killing a prison administrator and leading law enforcement on a five-day manhunt in 2019 will have to wait until next year to face a judge.

Curtis Watson is charged with more than a dozen criminal counts, including first-degree murder, aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping. He’s accused of escaping the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in August 2019 after raping and killing Debra Johnson at her home on prison grounds.

Watson’s trial was originally scheduled to begin Oct. 26; however, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which put trials on hold for much of this year, Watson’s trial is now set for Sept. 20, 2021.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Johnson was a 38-year employee of the Tennessee Department of Correction. Her family filed a lawsuit in August 2020 against the state of Tennessee.

Daughter of murdered prison administrator sues state

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