Escaped inmate Curtis Watson faces charges in court

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The man accused of escaping prison and killing a prison administrator faced a judge for a video arraignment Wednesday afternoon.

It was Curtis Watson’s first court appearance in a Lauderdale County court room after a five-day manhunt. He was arraigned on multiple charges including first-degree murder.

According to the judge, the charge of felony escape carries a penalty of 1-6 years; especially aggravated burglary, 8-30 years; aggravated sexual battery, 8-30 years; and first degree murder could carry the death penalty, life in prison without parole or life in prison with parole.

A preliminary hearing date was set for Sept. 25. Watson will be held at the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville until then.

Watson is accused of sexually assaulting and murdering prison administrator Debra Johnson before taking off on a tractor.

Johnson’s body was found in her home 30 minutes after prison staff realized Watson was gone.

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District Attorney Mark Davidson says his office is already considering the death penalty as a sentence.

“We’re definitely going to work very diligently for the family and for justice in this case,” Assistant District Attorney Julie Pillow said.

Johnson’s funeral is scheduled for Friday in Nashville.

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