ANCHORAGE — One of two men who killed Rachelle Waterman’s mother is a fast-talking liar who changed his story to prevent spending his life in prison — even if it meant implicating his then-16-year-old girlfriend in her mother’s death, a lawyer said in recorded testimony played Thursday.
“You sacrificed her so you could salvage the rest of your life,” lawyer Steven Wells said to Jason Arrant in recorded testimony from Waterman’s first trial in 2006.
The nearly 5-year-old tapes became a part of Waterman’s second trial after Arrant refused to testify Wednesday.
Waterman, now 22, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder, murder, kidnapping and other serious crimes. Her first trial ended in a hung jury.
Lauri Waterman, 48, was kidnapped from her Craig home in November 2004 by Brian Radel, a longtime friend of Arrant’s, and driven to a remote location on Prince of Wales Island. The idea was to make the death look like a drunken driving accident, and the motive was to protect the girl from what they believed was an abusive mother.
With Arrant standing by, Radel unsuccessfully tried to break Lauri Waterman’s neck, then beat her with a flashlight before suffocating her. At that point, the two realized the injuries were inconsistent with a drunken driving accident and drove to the end of a logging road and set Waterman’s purple minivan ablaze with her body inside.
In the taped testimony, Wells questioned why Arrant first told authorities that Rachelle Waterman had no role in her mother’s murder and then changed his story when a Craig police officer said she put them up to it.
“You are pretty accomplished at making things up on the fly,” Wells said.
Arrant said he was just trying to tell the truth.
But Wells said Arrant turned on Radel blamed Waterman to keep himself from being imprisoned for life.
Both men pleaded guilty and testified against Waterman at her first trial. Radel testified Wednesday that Waterman never directly asked him to kill her mother, and claims of her complicity came second-hand to him from Arrant.
In plea deals, Arrant, 31, received 49 years for the killing and could be released from prison when he is in his 40s. Radel, 30, was sentenced to 99 years. Both men were 24 when Lauri Waterman was killed.
Arrant, who was Rachelle Waterman’s boyfriend at the time, said he believed that Lauri Waterman was physically abusing Rachelle and the killing was to protect her. Radel also had a brief romance with Waterman.
But Wells asked Arrant why he question whether Waterman was exaggerating, and why if she was involved she did not tell the men where the key to the house was hidden so they didn’t have to enter through the garage window.