Tennessee Man Accused of Killing His Newlywed Wife on Fiji Honeymoon Pleads Not Guilty

An American man accused of killing his newlywed wife while they were on honeymoon in Fiji has pleaded not guilty and denied confessing to police that he committed the crime.

Bradly Robert Dawson, 38, appeared in Lautoka High Court on Wednesday over the murder of Christe Chen, 36, and requested bail due to his health and his mother’s reliance on him.

The couple from Tennessee were married in February and went on a honeymoon at the exclusive Turtle Island Resort on July 7. Police said that staff discovered Chen’s body two days later with multiple head trauma injuries.

Dawson reportedly fled to an adjacent island before being arrested. Police found him with a wallet, passport, driver’s license, as well as his and Chen’s credit cards, Fox News reported.

Dawson allegedly admitted to police after his arrest that he had battered his wife to death during a drunken argument with her. He was charged with murder, which carries a life sentence if convicted.

But Dawson maintains his innocence. His defense attorney, Iqbal Khan, was contesting the notion that his client confessed to the crime during his interview with the police, as Dawson refused to sign a confessional statement.

Khan argued that his client had no criminal record in any country.

Bail Application

Khan requested bail for Dawson due to his health and the need for medications that require him to speak with physicians. Bail was also requested because Dawson’s mother was financially dependent on him and “will suffer mentally” if he remained in custody.

He stated that because the murder trial may not even begin until 2024, putting Dawson in jail until then would be “a substantial miscarriage of justice,” reported Fox News.

The defendant would turn in his passport and stay with his American family friend in Legaaelga, Nadi, if he is granted bail, Khan said.

But prosecutor Alvin Singh opposed bail for Dawson, citing his flight risk. Singh argued that the two “sureties” listed on Dawson’s bond application had only met the defendant on the day Chen was allegedly murdered.

“We have evidence to believe that applicant had fled the resort in a kayak on the night of July 9 and he was arrested on a nearby island called Matacawalevu Island on July 10,” Singh told the judge.

Judge Riyaz Hamza will decide on the bail application on Sept. 14, with another hearing scheduled for Sept. 26.

Chen’s Family Fly to Fiji

Lawyer Ronald Gordon, who is representing Chen’s family, said Chen’s parents traveled to Fiji to cremate their daughter in the South Pacific nation rather than bring her home to the United States because her body was badly damaged.

Gordon said Dawson and his wife were heard arguing over dinner on July 8, and following an incident in their room, Dawson fled on a kayak to another island, taking his wallet but not his phone or GPS watch.

It wasn’t until the following afternoon, after the couple had missed breakfast and lunch, that staff discovered Chen’s body, Gordon said. She had multiple blunt trauma wounds to her head.

‘Wife’s Death an Accident’

Dawson maintains that his wife’s death was an accident.

Khan said the defendant left the resort because “he panicked, he was shocked.” He said that Dawson was distressed at losing his wife and had been slowly recovering.

Dawson worked in the information technology department at Youth Villages, a nonprofit child welfare and support organization based in Memphis. Chen worked as a pharmacist at a Kroger supermarket in the same city.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.

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