Newlywed Bradley Dawson pleads NOT GUILTY to wife Christe Chen's murder days after alleged confession

Bradley Dawson appeared in the High Court of Lautoka and asked a judge to release him on bail due to poor health

Newlywed Bradley Dawson pleads NOT GUILTY to wife Christe Chen's murder days after alleged confession
Bradley Dawson was accused of murdering his wife Christe Chen in their luxury bungalow on a private Fiji island (Christe Chen Dawson/Instagram)
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LAUTOKA, FIJI: Bradley Dawson, who was accused of murdering his 36-year-old pharmacist wife Christe Chen in their luxury bungalow on a private Fiji island, has denied confessing to the murder. The 38-year-old appeared in the High Court of Lautoka on Wednesday, August 31, and asked a judge to release him on bail due to poor health. He pleaded not guilty to killing Chen.

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Judge Riyaz Hamza was presented the contents of Dawson’s police interview after he was arrested. Prosecutors said in the contents that Dawson admitted to getting into a drunken fight with Chen and eventually murdering her. Dawson’s attorney, Iqbal Khan, challenged the prosecution’s claim during the hearing that his client had admitted guilt. Khan insisted Dawson refused to sign a statement allegedly containing a confession following his interview with the local police.

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The judge was urged by Dawson's defense to set bail for his release as he is “not in good health”, Fox News reported. They insisted Dawson needs to consult doctors about his prescription medications. A filing also claimed Dawson’s mother was financially dependent on him and “will mentally suffer” if he remained in jail. In the bail application, Khan said holding Dawson without bail until his trial would be a “substantial miscarriage of justice”. Dawson's trial could begin as late as 2024. Opposing the bail, prosecutors and Chen's family argued that Dawson was a flight risk.

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Last month, Dawson had reportedly confessed to police to killing Chen, only to later claim she was alive when he left her after a drunken fight. Chen was beaten to death by Dawson, 38, during their honeymoon. Her body was found so brutally injured that it could not be embalmed. It had to be cremated before her parents could take her home to the US. 

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Bradley Dawson has denied confessing to the murder of Christie Chen (Christe Chen Dawson/Instagram)
Bradley Dawson has denied confessing to the murder of Christie Chen (Christe Chen Dawson/Instagram)

Chen was found dead on July 9, 2022, in the bathroom of the secluded Turtle Island Resort. She and her husband had checked into that hotel two days earlier. The two had tied the knot in February, three months after they met. While Chen worked as a pharmacist at Kroger, Dawson worked as an IT professional for Youth Villages, a non-profit that helps children. 

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The medical examiner ruled Chen's death a murder. It was found that she died from a traumatic brain injury caused by a brain bleed, severe traumatic head injuries, and multiple traumatic injuries to her body. Her cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. 

The Daily Mail obtained disclosure documents that said during a police interview, Dawson initially "confessed to the offense". However, he later remained "silent after seeking legal advice". He now maintains that Chen's death was an accident and that she was alive when he left her at the bungalow. A lawyer representing Chen's estate and her parents, Ronald Gordon, told the Daily Mail that they will take civil action against Dawson if he is not held criminally liable for her death. They could also take legal action against Turtle Island Resort and will oppose any bail application. 

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Dawson had told a local man that he had an argument with his wife and left Turtle Island in the night. He had left his GPS watch and phone at the hotel. An alarm was reportedly raised on the day Chen was murdered when neither she nor Dawson turned up for breakfast. Their personal butler turned up at their bungalow and found a "do not disturb" sign on the door. However, when they failed to come for lunch, the butler, known as a 'House Papa', unlocked the door with a spare key. He entered and found Chen's bloodied body inside the washroom. He alerted hotel management, who subsequently called the Fiji Police Force in the nearby city of Lautoka. Dawson was later nabbed by a team of three police officers on Matacawalevu Island, about 1.2 miles across the water from Turtle Island. He was taken to Lautoka on Fiji's main island Viti Levu and charged with murder.

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