Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Judge delays Craig murder conspiracy trial

JUNEAU - The trial for a 16-year-old girl charged with murder along with two 24-year-old men in the November death of her mother, 48-year-old Lauri Waterman, has been rescheduled for August.

The trial for Rachelle Waterman, Brian Radel and Jason Arrant was scheduled to begin Thursday. Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins, who was assigned to preside over the trial, decided to postpone the trial at the request of Rachelle Waterman's attorney, Assistant Public Advocate Steven Wells, who indicated he was still waiting to see all of the evidence against his client.

Friday each of the defendants told Collins they wished to postpone the trial.

Collins set the new trial date for Aug. 22, moving a civil trial that had been scheduled for her court.

The trial is scheduled to be held in Craig, a community of about 1,500 people on Prince of Wales Island, where Rachelle Waterman lived with her parents and attended high school.

To date, none of the attorneys has requested a different location for the trial, although the prosecutor has said there is a great deal of emotion surrounding the case in the girl's hometown.

Ketchikan Assistant District Attorney Dan Schally said during Rachelle Waterman's bail hearing that he had heard from numerous people who didn't want her released back in the community.

All three co-defendants are charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy, second-degree murder, kidnapping, first-degree burglary, first-degree vehicle theft and tampering with physical evidence. The men are charged with additional evidence-tampering counts, and Radel faces an additional charge of criminal mischief.

Police investigate rollover accident

JUNEAU - Police are investigating a single-vehicle rollover accident that happened late Sunday near the downtown area and sent the 21-year-old driver to the hospital.

Police identified the man as Adam Hilbelink. They reported that he went to Bartlett Regional Hospital with serious injuries. Capital City Fire and Rescue crews reported that they had to remove the driver, who was trapped inside the vehicle after the 11 p.m. crash in the 2000 block of Glacier Avenue.

Hilbelink was still listed as a Bartlett patient Monday afternoon.

Police reported their investigation found Hilbelink was driving the 1994 Ford Explorer away from the downtown area on Glacier Avenue when it left the roadway and struck a utility pole.

The vehicle was reportedly totaled. Police impounded what was left of it for evidence as the investigation continues.

Subsistence halibut survey continued

The state is continuing a project to estimate subsistence halibut harvests in Alaska.

Subsistence halibut fishermen will soon receive a one-page survey form in the mail asking them if they fished in 2004 and how many halibut they harvested.

Last year's survey, conducted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game under a contract with the National Marine Fisheries Service, showed that Southeast Alaska dominated the subsistence fishery.

About 60 percent of the 2003 halibut subsistence harvest occurred in Southeast Alaska. The communities recording the largest harvest totals were Sitka and Kodiak, according to Fish and Game.

Overall, Alaska's 2-year-old federal subsistence halibut fishery attracted almost 5,000 participants in 2003.

Subsistence halibut fishermen's effort represented a little more than 1 percent of the total landings of halibut in the state.

About 65 percent of the 11,635 halibut subsistence certificate holders participated in the state's survey last year.

Fishermen will be asked to return the survey form for the 2004 season to the Department of Fish and Game.

Questions about the survey should be addressed to the department's Division of Subsistence in Douglas at 465-3617.

Military ponders date for next launch

KODIAK - Military officials are working around the cod and tanner crab fisheries to determine the best date for an upcoming target missile launch from the Kodiak Launch Complex.

Missile Defense Agency officials had previously said a rocket likely would be fired in mid-February, and the Coast Guard recently gave notice to establish safety zones near Narrow Cape and Sitkinak for Feb. 12 to 18.

But the previous timing "is being adjusted to accommodate the needs of the cod and tanner crab fishermen," according to agency commander Lt. Gen. Trey Obering.

Access to the safety zones is prohibited during launch operations at the Alaska Aerospace Development Corp.'s launch facility at Narrow Cape.

AADC officials requested the change of the launch window in light of meetings with the Kodiak Salmon Fisherman's Association, Alaska Fish and Wildlife biologists, MDA officials said.

The Coast Guard enforced offshore safety zones during a test rocket launch in December, when no commercial fishery was open.

The Gulf of Alaska cod season began Jan. 1 and normally closes in mid-February.

Scientists watch two Alaska volcanoes

ANCHORAGE - Scientists continue to monitor two volcanoes that the Alaska Volcano Observatory says could send dangerous ash into the air at any time.

Mount Spurr, 80 miles west of Anchorage across Cook Inlet, shook itself from a 12-year sleep in early July and has been in Code Yellow status ever since, with daily small earthquakes.

Code Yellow indicates an eruption is possible and could occur with no warning, according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Mount Veniaminof, about 500 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula, changed from Code Green, or "dormant," to Code Yellow about Jan. 1. On Jan. 10, the observatory upgraded its activity to Code Orange, indicating the volcano is "in eruption."

Both volcanoes are near enough to major airways that scientists are monitoring them every day, Power said. Volcanic ash, if blown high enough, poses a serious threat to aircraft.

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