Tenn governor: Protocol was followed before inmate’s escape

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s governor says protocol was followed by prison officials prior to the escape of a Tennessee convict suspected of killing a Department of Correction employee, but hard questions remain.

Gov. Bill Lee told reporters Monday his administration wants to examine Correction protocols after the death of the 64-year-old department employee, Debra Johnson, and the escape of 44-year-old inmate Curtis Ray Watson.

Watson was on mowing duties Aug. 7 when, authorities say, he sexually assaulted and strangled Johnson at her home at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary. Authorities say Watson escaped on a tractor, triggering a dayslong manhunt that ended with the inmate’s weekend surrender.

An affidavit says Watson had access to a tractor as a trusty.

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Watson’s to be arraigned Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated sexual battery and especially aggravated burglary.

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