Curtis Watson could face death penalty

 Curtis Watson could face death penalty

The West Tennessee convict accused of killing a corrections administrator and escaping prison could face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder.

44-year-old Curtis Ray Watson appeared before Judge Janice Craig in a video arraignment Wednesday in Lauderdale County Court.

Watson is facing charges of First-Degree Murder, Especially Aggravated Burglary, Aggravated Sexual Battery,  and Felony Escape.

The public defender for Watson, Bo Burk, made no comments in court and a plea was not entered.

A preliminary hearing for Watson has been set for September 25.

Watson was brought to the Lauderdale County Justice Center but didn’t appear in person before the judge after his lawyer requested the video arraignment. Only the judge was able to see Watson through her bench camera.

Authorities say Watson was on lawn mowing duties at West Tennessee State Penitentiary last Wednesday when he went to 64-year-old Debra Johnson’s home on prison grounds and killed her. Authorities say Watson then escaped on a tractor.

Watson eluded authorities until his arrest Sunday.