Jury in murder case to continue its deliberations

Jurors scheduled to meet through Tuesday, if necessary

Posted: Sunday, February 12, 2006

Jurors deciding the fate of Rachelle Waterman again sent the judge to the dictionary Friday before going home for the weekend without a verdict.

The jury is scheduled to continue deliberations through Tuesday, if necessary.

The 17-year-old defendant faces seven felony allegations, including first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, in the death of her mother. Forty-eight-year-old Lauri Waterman was killed about 15 months ago, in a remote area of Prince of Wales Island north of the family's Craig home.

After nearly two weeks of testimony in Juneau Superior Court, jurors began deliberating Wednesday morning and continued throughout Thursday and Friday.

The only clue Friday to their progress was a mid-morning note asking for a legal definition for the word "engage." On Wednesday, jurors had asked for a legal definition for the word "intended."

In discussing Friday's question with attorneys, Judge Patricia Collins noted that "engage" is prominent in how the law defines conspiracy - the first count of the indictment against the defendant.

The conspiracy charge could affect the jury's findings on the other counts because Rachelle Waterman was in Anchorage at a state volleyball tournament when her mother was killed by two men who testified for the prosecution.

She is charged with murder under two legal theories, kidnapping, burglary, vehicle theft and tampering with physical evidence - with each charge alleging she "intended and aided or abetted or solicited" Jason Arrant and Brian Radel. The two men agreed last year to plead guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for dismissal of the other charges and are scheduled to be sentenced in March.

Pulling out a 1979 Webster's New World Dictionary and a Black's Law Dictionary, Collins responded that with respect to the conspiracy charge, engage means to "involve oneself; take part in." She added "or participate in," reflecting the most prominent use cited in Webster's.

Prosecutor Stephen West argued that she should include the words "embark on," but Collins said that might lead to confusion.

The next note from jurors came in mid-afternoon. It stated that the jury would not deliberate during the weekend and would return at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

Monday's deliberations will go no later than 2:30 p.m., the note added. But "if we are deliberating on Tuesday the 14th, we will start at 8:30 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m."

Radel and Arrant testified during the trial that in the early hours of Nov. 14, 2004, Radel broke into the Waterman home through a locked door from the garage, took Lauri Waterman from her bed, drove her in the family minivan, met Arrant and killed her.

West argued last week that Rachelle Waterman asked Arrant, with whom she had a sexual relationship, to kill her mother,

and Arrant enlisted Radel, a previous boyfriend of the defendant, to plan and carry out Lauri Waterman's killing.

Defense attorney Steven Wells argued that the sexual relationship between his client and Arrant had ended, and that that led Arrant to convince Radel to kill Lauri Waterman. He said that if his client had participated in the conspiracy, the men would have known about a key to the Waterman house that the family kept outside in the back.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com

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