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The Latest: Captured inmate could face death penalty

Updated: August 14, 2019 02:22 PM

RIPLEY, Tenn. (AP) — The Latest on a court hearing for a Tennessee convict who escaped from prison (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

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A judge told a Tennessee convict accused of killing a corrections administrator and escaping prison that he could face death if convicted of first-degree murder.

Curtis Ray Watson appeared before Judge Janice Craig in a video arraignment Wednesday in Lauderdale County court.

Watson's public defender Bo Burk made no comments in court and a plea was not entered.

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 the 44-year-old Watson was on lawn mowing duties at West Tennessee State Penitentiary on Aug. 7 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.

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12:13 a.m.

A Tennessee convict accused of killing a corrections administrator and escaping prison before leading authorities on a multi-day manhunt is set to face a judge.

Curtis Ray Watson is scheduled to appear in a Tennessee court Wednesday for arraignment on charges including murder and aggravated sexual battery in 64-year-old Debra Johnson's killing.

Authorities say the 44-year-old Watson was on lawn mowing duties at West Tennessee State Penitentiary on Aug. 7 when he went to Johnson's home on prison grounds and killed her. Authorities say Watson then escaped on a tractor.

Watson eluded authorities until his arrest Sunday. He was found hours after he was spotted by surveillance cameras outside of a home in Henning, 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the prison.

Watson has been serving a 15-year sentence for especially aggravated kidnapping.

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(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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