For now, the trial of a teenage girl accused of plotting to kill her mother will be held in the tiny fishing and logging town of Craig on Prince of Wales Island.
However, Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins said Friday, if an impartial jury can't be picked from the small pool of candidates in the town of 1,100, Rachelle Waterman's trial will be moved to Juneau.
Waterman, 17, is accused of conspiring with two men to kill her mother, Lauri Waterman, in Craig in November of 2004.
Lauri Waterman's body was found in the family's minivan on a remote logging road several miles from Thorne Bay.
Rachelle Waterman, along with her alleged coconspirators, Brian Radel and Jason Arrant, were all charged with first-degree murder and a slew of other felonies, from kidnapping to tampering with evidence.
Arrant and Radel pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder charge last year and agreed to testify at Waterman's trial, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 17.
Collins said at a pretrial hearing Friday that she mailed questionnaires to about 300 potential jurors in Craig.
From those responses, Collins will attempt to gauge how many people have heard about the case and who has formed strong opinions about it.
Ketchikan District Attorney Stephen West questioned the need to move the trial 200 miles north to Juneau if a Craig jury can't be seated. West said adequate maximum facilities exist in Ketchikan to house Waterman, Arrant and Radel.
Collins said factors other than security went into her decision to move the trial to Juneau if Craig proves to be an unsuitable venue. Among them were Rachelle Waterman's and her family's request to hold it in Juneau.
"If jail were the only factor I considered, the answer might be different," Collins said.
Jury selection is expected to take two days, starting Jan. 17. If the trial venue must be moved, it would resume in Juneau the following Monday, Collins said.
Waterman is awaiting trial at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.
Juneau Empire ©2013. All Rights Reserved.