West Tennessee prison escapee to make first court appearance Wednesday

Aug 13, 2019

Curtis Ray Watson
Credit TDOC

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- West Tennessee Prison escapee Curtis Ray Watson will be arraigned Wednesday afternoon at the Lauderdale County Justice Center.

Watson is facing charges of first-degree murder, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated burglary and escape.

Watson was a trusty on mowing duties at the West Tennessee Prison last week when, authorities say, he sexually assaulted and strangled corrections department administrator Deborah Johnson. Officials say Watson then escaped on a tractor, triggering a dayslong manhunt that ended with the inmate's surrender about ten miles from the prison on Sunday.

Gov. Bill Lee told reporters Monday it appears protocol was followed by prison officials ahead of Watson’s escape. Lee says those protocols will now be reexamined.