A Rhode Island man accused of killing his wife while scuba diving in the British Virgin Islands was escorted into a courtroom in handcuffs Wednesday for the start of his murder trial.

David Swain, dressed in a gray suit, sat alone at a booth behind his lawyers as the British court seated a nine-person jury.

Swain is accused of drowning Shelley Tyre in March 1999 while the couple was diving on the last day of a Caribbean getaway.

SLIDESHOW: Scuba Diving Murder Trial

Authorities in the British Virgin Islands originally ruled it an accidental drowning, but they later charged Swain with murder after a 2006 Rhode Island civil trial found him responsible. Federal U.S. agents arrested Swain at his Rhode Island dive shop in November 2007 and he was extradited to this British territory.

Swain, 53, has maintained his innocence. Lawyers for the defendant, who sat on the town council in Jamestown, R.I., after his wife's death, say they will show the death was a "tragic accident."

In the civil suit, Tyre's parents accused him of killing their daughter because he was romancing another woman and because the couple's prenuptial agreement denied him money if they divorced.

Swain's daughter sat on the opposite side of the courtroom from Tyre's family. Both sides declined to comment to a reporter.