'There's No Words:' Family Reuniting After Edmond Father's Sentencing

Hear from the family of Ryan Watson after his long awaited return home after being detained in Turks and Caicos for weeks.

Friday, June 21st 2024, 3:52 pm

By: News 9, Deanne Stein

After two and a half months of waiting, an Oklahoma man is finally heading home from Turks and Caicos.

Ryan Watson was arrested and charged with carrying ammunition in his bag. Friday morning, a judge handed down a sentence of 13 weeks suspended for nine months and a $2,000 fine.

“We're more than excited,” said Susan Fendley, Ryan Watson’s mother.

Following that court ruling, Fendley said the family rushed to the treasury’s office to pay the fine to release her son’s passport. They're flying home to be reunited with his children.

“He really wants to get home to those kids,” said Terry Fendley, Ryan Watson’s stepfather. “I mean, he keeps talking about that the kids, wants to be back home.”

Ryan will soon be home after the long wait for freedom. “There's no words to say I feel like I’ve taken the first deep breath since April 14 when we first arrived and realized the seriousness of the situation,” said Susan.

Ryan was arrested following a vacation with friends on the island in April 2024. On his way home, airport security found four rounds of hunting ammunition in his bag, a charge that carried a mandatory minimum 12-year sentence.

U.S. Senators Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Rep. Josh Breechen (R-Okla.), both of whom are lawmakers representing Oklahoma in Washington D.C., visited the island in May to discuss the arrests, and while unable to negotiate the release of the detained Americans, two have returned home after being given fines and shortened sentences.

Turks and Caicos Gov. Daniel-Selvaratnam defended the country's laws and said no American has received the full sentence of 12 years in prison. Last week, the island's government amended its gun control law to allow for more lenient sentencing in these types of cases.

“It’s been tense,” said Susan. “The judge still had to go over the sentencing by reading the past law and the mandatory 12 years that we’ve been hearing for the past two and a half three months.”

However, in the end, the judge showed leniency.

“It's just amazing right now to be here in the airport getting ready to come home and finally reunite my son with his family,” Susan said.

The family hopes to arrive at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City Friday night.

In a statement Governor Kevin Stitt said:

“For two months, the Watson family has faced great uncertainty. But Ryan and his family kept the faith. Today, prayers have been answered and Ryan will come home to Oklahoma. I’m grateful to our congressional delegation, especially Sen. Mullin, Sen. Lankford, and Rep. Breechen, for their advocacy. We stand up our fellow Oklahomans. I wish Ryan, Valerie, and their children the very best as they reconnect and heal from their time apart. May God bless their family.”

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