• FOX13 Investigates: New developments after an inmate escaped from Tennessee prison

    By: Kody Leibowitz

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - An October grand jury in Lauderdale County came and went without hearing the Curtis Watson case.

    The case needs to have a preliminary hearing first. That didn't happen last month. 

    A status hearing is currently scheduled for November, but there could be a preliminary hearing in November or December, depending on when the mental evaluation comes back. 

    Per District Attorney Mark Davidson, if a mental evaluation comes back, they could move forward with a preliminary hearing in November and potentially bound the case over to the October grand jury. 

    The grand jury met on Oct. 2 and concluded all business presented to it. Those cases were arraigned on Oct. 14. 

    The next grand jury meets in Feb. Davidson said the county does not normally reconvene a grand jury but could in this case if they have a preliminary hearing in November. 

    "There's a lot of media attention and public interest, whatever we can do to keep the case moving," Davidson told me. 

    If the preliminary hearing is in December, he'll probably wait for the February grand jury. If the prelim is in November, he will consider reconvening the grand jury to take up the Watson case. 

    TDOC: $3.9M spent on OT in Aug., up 92$ over Aug. 2018


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    A five-day manhunt ensued in early August after Watson escaped West Tennessee State Penitentiary.

    Watson stands accused of murdering corrections administrator Debra Johnson, a longtime employee of the Tennessee Department of Correction.

    TDOC doesn't have numbers for how much they paid its employees over the course of those five days.

    What the agency has is this - TDOC paid $3.9 million in overtime throughout the month of August.

    That amount is $1.87 million more in overtime than the same month the year prior, or a 92% increase, according to data released to FOX13 Investigates.

    The August overtime pay for TDOC is also $1.5M more than in July 2019, just one month before the manhunt.

    Why so much money?

    TDOC said many of its employees, including from community supervision, the Office of Investigation and Compliance, and prisons statewide were deployed to help in the manhunt, contributing to the increase in overtime for the month.

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