Convict charged in murder, rape of TDOC employee expected to receive life without parole in court

Crime and Courts

This photo provided by The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows Curtis Ray Watson. Authorities say Watson, a convict suspected of killing a corrections administrator before escaping prison on a tractor has been captured. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said on Twitter that Watson was caught Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. (Courtesy: The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

HENNING, Tenn. (WKRN) — Curtis Watson, the man charged with killing Tennessee Department of Correction Administrator Debra Johnson before escaping prison on a tractor in August 2019, plans to plead guilty in court on Monday.

Johnson’s son told News 2 the district attorney notified the family last week about the plea deal. In an update on Monday, he told News 2 the deal will be life without parole.

State prosecutors previously said they planned to seek the death penalty in the case.

Johnson’s son also said Debra’s family and some close coworkers will be there at 2 p.m. Debra’s children are expected to address Watson in the courtroom.

In August of 2020, Governor Bill Lee signed Executive Order 56 to rename the Tennessee Prison for Women after Johnson on the one-year anniversary of her death. The facility is now known as the Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center.

No other information was immediately released.

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