Oklahoman awaits sentencing in Turks and Caicos munitions case, family remains 'cautiously optimistic'

An Oklahoma tourist who celebrated his 40th birthday and spent the last two months stuck on the island awaiting the outcome of a trial will be sentenced Friday morning in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Ryan Watson of Arcadia traveled to the island with his family for a vacation in April. When he went to the airport to return, airport security discovered hunting ammunition in his bag and arrested him. His case, and that of several other Americans facing similar charges, has attracted the attention of state and federal officials.

“We have enough experiences here that I think we're always cautiously optimistic about what we think the outcome is going to be,” said Susan Fendley, Watson's mother.

Watson will appear in court Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern Time to receive his sentence. Last week, the island's government amended its gun control law to allow more lenient sentences in such cases.

“It's certainly going in the right direction now because they've given judges the option to either issue a fine, or incarceration, or custody, or both,” Terry Fendley said. “And so, they gave them that ability to try to make sure that the judgment fits the circumstances.”

If the judge imposes a fine-only sentence, Watson could leave the island the same day and be back in Oklahoma Friday evening.

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