State to take Craig murder case to higher court

Prosecutor to appeal judge's decision on evidence, indictment

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Rachelle Waterman left a Juneau courtroom Monday, still in limbo.

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Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins stood by her decision to dismiss the seven-count indictment charging the 17-year-old Craig girl with murder and conspiracy in the November 2004 slaying of her mother, 48-year-old Lauri Waterman. During a brief hearing Monday Collins also stayed her order to give the state a chance to take the matter to the Alaska Court of Appeals.

Ketchikan District Attorney Stephen West told Collins he would file that appeal today.

Decisions can take "sometimes a matter of months or more than a year," Collins told Rachelle Waterman Monday.

"I carefully considered the state's motion for reconsideration," Collins told the attorneys, who both participated in Monday's hearing by telephone. She said she also considered the entire record when she dismissed the indictment. She reduced bail so that Rachelle Waterman could get out of jail while her ruling remains in dispute.

The issue now in dispute was argued months before the girl's trial ended with a hung jury Feb. 14. Last year, Collins ruled the prosecution could use a videotape of a Nov. 19, 2004, police interrogation that led to Waterman's arrest.

Late in the two-hour interview, jurors heard the defendant say she knew her mother could be killed the weekend of Nov. 14, 2004, and did nothing to stop it.

Rachelle Waterman was at the state volleyball tournament in Anchorage that weekend. Two men from the island, alleged co-conspirators Jason Arrant and Brian Radel, agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder and testified for the state at her trial.

Defense attorney Steven Wells argued before the trial that the statements were coerced. Collins initially allowed the video to be shown, ruling that the defendant's statements were voluntary. She reversed the decision three weeks after the trial ended.

After the Court of Appeals issues a ruling, either side could appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court, which would have discretion to take the case, Wells said. That could add to the time it takes to decide the issue.

A case central to Wells' argument concerns a 16-year-old Anchorage boy accused of robbery, who was questioned by Alaska State Troopers in 1995. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that his statements were involuntary.

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



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