DA to seek death penalty against inmate accused of killing TDOC administrator

Curtis Watson captured.png
Posted at 11:02 AM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 23:57:47-05

FLORENCE, Tenn. (WTVF)  — State prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty in the trial of a Tennessee convict charged with killing a corrections administrator and escaping prison on a tractor.

Lauderdale County district attorney Mark Davidson said Tuesday that he has filed a notice of intent to seek death if Curtis Ray Watson is convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying of longtime Tennessee Department of Correction administrator Debra Johnson.

On Tuesday, Watson was indicted on 15 counts including premeditated murder and rape. He hasn't entered a plea in the case. Judge Joe Walker set an Oct. 26 trial date.

Watson escaped from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in 2019. Authorities say he was on regular lawn care duties on August 7 when he allegedly sexually assaulted and killed corrections administrator Debra Johnson at her home on the prison grounds that morning.

He was on the run for five days before he was caught. Earlier this month, he was indicted on charges of premeditated murder and rape.

*The Associated Press contributed to this article.