HENNING, Tenn. (WKRN) — The inmate accused of murdering a high-ranking Tennessee Department of Correction official and then escaping prison on a stolen tractor, was serving a 15-year sentence for holding his then wife against her will with an aluminum baseball bat, according to court records.
Curtis Ray Watson, who turned 44 the day of Debra Johnson’s murder and his escape, pleaded guilty to especially aggravated kidnapping in December 2012.
According to court records, in July 2012 Watson held his then wife against her will in Henry County, using an aluminum baseball bat as a weapon.
Watson waived his right to a trial and was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison, the minimum required sentence for the crime.
Watson was initially charged with aggravated rape and aggravated assault.
Those charges were dismissed by the state, according to Henry County District Court records. The case moved forward by way of criminal information, which happens when the defendant waives their right to a grand jury. Former Henry County Assistant District Attorney Paul Hessing charged Watson with especially aggravated kidnapping.
Watson and the victim were married at the time of this crime but they have since divorced.
Prior to his conviction in Henry County, Watson served 10 years in prison on an aggravated child abuse charge.
According to Carroll County Court records, Watson and Susan Watson, did “intentionally or knowingly, other than by accidental means, inflict serious bodily injury upon… a child under 6 years of age.”
Susan Watson, whose relationship to Watson is unclear, was sentenced to 5 years in prison while Watson was sentenced to 10.
Watson was charged with a few misdemeanors in 2000 and was convicted of a DUI in 1999.