Ex claims Waterman never asked him to kill mother

Posted: Thursday, January 27, 2011

ANCHORAGE — One of the two men serving a prison term for murdering Lauri Waterman, allegedly at the behest of her 16-year-old daughter, testified Wednesday the daughter never directly asked him to kill her mother.

Instead, Brian Radel said all information about Rachelle Waterman’s complicity came from Jason Arrant, the teen’s boyfriend at the time of the November 2004 death. Radel also is a former boyfriend of Rachelle Waterman, now 22 and being retried for the slaying.

Both men were convicted of first-degree murder in Lauri Waterman’s death. Rachelle Waterman is charged with conspiring with the men to kill her mother.

A jury deadlocked in Rachelle Waterman’s first trial, and the state decided to refile charges. Her trial was moved to Anchorage after a judge decided it would be unlikely that an impartial jury could be seated in Ketchikan, about 55 miles northeast of the family’s hometown of Craig.

Arrant and Radel are both serving long prison sentences. The two, who were 24 at the time of the death, were accused of abducting Lauri Waterman and burning the minivan with her body inside, then trying to cover it up as a drunken driving accident, prosecutors said. The vehicle and the woman’s remains were found in a remote area about 40 miles from Craig.

Arrant was scheduled to testify but refused, and could face contempt charges. Both men testified against Rachelle Waterman at her first trial. After Radel’s nearly six-hour testimony concluded late Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors began playing Arrant’s testimony from the first trial, when he said the murder plans were hatched after Rachelle Waterman said her mother was abusive and the teen would be better off if the woman was not around anymore. Arrant said he asked Rachelle Waterman what that meant, and she said it would be better if her mother was dead.

Steven Wells, Rachelle Waterman’s attorney, has argued his client may have said her life would be better if her mother was not around, but that was not a request to kill her.

Arrant’s recorded testimony is scheduled to continue Thursday.

Some witnesses who testified this week said Waterman often spoke of her strained relationship with her mother. Carl “Doc” Waterman, Rachelle Waterman’s father, said in court Tuesday his wife was strict with their daughter Rachelle, but that he never saw any evidence that Lauri Waterman hit the girl.

Radel testified he would never hurt someone unless someone else’s life was in jeopardy.

Citing second-hand information from Arrant, Radel testified Wednesday that Rachelle Waterman did not want her mother killed at first. At some point, she was OK with it, according to Radel, who later also said in his testimony Waterman didn’t want anything to happen.

Under direct questioning from prosecutor Jean Seaton, Radel recounted the night of the murder in an unemotional voice.

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