The Tennessee man accused of violently murdering his bride on their luxurious Fiji honeymoon is hoping to get out of jail before trial.
Bradley Dawson, 38, remains at a Fiji jail for the July 8 murder of his wife of five months, Christe Chen, 36. Dawson appeared at the Lautoka High Court on Wednesday, requesting the judge grant him bail for multiple reasons, including the well-being of his mother, per Fox News.
Dawson’s defense attorney, Iqbal Khan, claimed Dawson’s mother was financially dependent on her son and “will mentally suffer” should Dawson remain behind bars, according to the bail application.
Additionally, the request states Dawson was “not in good health and has been prescribed certain medications, which he needs to consult his medical practitioner to take advice on his medications.”
It was unclear with what afflictions Dawson allegedly lives and which medicines he has been prescribed.
Iqbal Khan proffered conditions attached to Dawson’s potential release, including his living with an American family friend in Legaaelga and remaining in Fiji until trial.
But, according to prosecutor Alvin Singh, the American family friend is currently facing sex crime charges.
Singh also said two of Dawson’s sponsors on his bond application had no real ties to Dawson, as Dawson only met them on the day of Chen’s murder.
The Memphis, Tennessee-based couple married in February — after only a few months of knowing one another — and set forth for what was supposed to be an idyllic honeymoon at the five-star Turtle Island Resort, a popular $3,500 per night couples’ destination on the island where the film “Blue Lagoon” was filmed.
Instead, Chen was found allegedly beaten to death in the bathroom of their honeymoon suite on July 9. Her body was so badly damaged, her family's lawyer said, that she was unable to be embalmed and her parents were forced to have her cremated.
Witnesses later told authorities the couple argued over dinner the night before Chen's body was discovered; the Daily Mail has reported that witnesses said the couple were drunk at a "family fun night" party and Dawson began dancing inappropriately with another person. Resort guests also filed a complaint with the hotel after hearing “loud banging sounds” and a “loud scream” from the couple’s suite before there was “complete silence.”
Dawson admitted to ABC News that the couple did have a drunken argument but claimed he deescalated the situation by kayaking from Fiji’s Nacula Island to the remote Matacawalevu Island, more than three miles away.
Investigators believe the night-time excursion was actually his attempt to flee the crime.
Local man Manoa Ratulele called authorities after finding a disheveled Dawson on the beach, leading to Dawson’s arrest.
Dawson’s defense continues to contest statements Dawson made following his arrest, in which he allegedly admitted to killing Chen. However, according to Khan, the statements — which Dawson never signed — were made during a preliminary interview, known in Fiji as a “caution interview.”
Dawson maintains his innocence.
The prosecution and lawyers representing Chen’s relatives opposed bail at Wednesday’s hearing, citing Dawson as a flight risk. Chen family’s lawyer, Ronald Gordon, raised the same concern when telling Fox News that Dawson took his passport and wallet during his nighttime kayak ride, but left his GPS-enabled watch behind.
Iqbal Khan noted in court that the murder trial may not even begin until 2024, claiming that keeping Dawson jailed for so long would be “a substantial miscarriage of justice.”
Judge Riyaz Hamza rejected Dawson’s previous requests for pretrial release during a preliminary bail hearing on Aug. 17. A formal bail hearing was moved to Wednesday due to a technicality pertaining to Chen’s autopsy report.
Postmortem findings have yet to be published, though the Chens’ family lawyer has said she sustained “horrific injuries” from blunt force trauma to her face and head.
The recent bail application listed Dawson’s primary residence as "Middle Town (sic)", New York instead of Memphis, Tennessee, where the IT specialist had shared a home with Chen, an award-winning pharmacist. (The Memphis Commercial Appeal has previously reported that Dawson was born in Middletown, which is about 70 miles northwest of Manhattan.)
Judge Hamza has yet to rule but is expected to make his decision by Sept. 14. Another hearing has also been scheduled for Sept. 26.