Trial in fatal shooting of police officer slated to begin next week

Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2005

KENAI - The first-degree murder trial of a Kenai fishing guide accused in the fatal shooting of a police officer is scheduled to begin next week in Superior Court.

Officer John Watson was shot in the head with his own gun on Dec. 25, 2003, when he responded to a request from Alaska State Troopers for help on a welfare check involving David Forster.

Judge Donald Hopwood, Kenai District Attorney June Stein and defense attorney John Murtagh worked out details of courtroom procedure last week in a pretrial conference. Hopwood said he expected it could take as many as 120 potential candidates to seat an impartial panel of 12 jurors with four alternates.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin May 17. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.

Watson was killed when he went to Forster's home in a Kenai subdivision.

A citizen had reported to troopers that Forster and a 21-year old woman had left her residence in a sport utility vehicle, and that Forster appeared intoxicated and agitated.

Watson, an 18-year veteran of the Kenai police force, went to Forster's home.

He reported that he had stopped the SUV in Forster's driveway. The woman took two dogs from the vehicle into the house.

A few minutes later Watson radioed dispatch that he needed assistance.

Forster and Watson are believed to have struggled when Watson tried to arrest him, troopers said. Forster grabbed Watson's service weapon, a .45-caliber semiautomatic Glock, troopers said.

An autopsy indicated that Watson was shot twice.

Forster then went into his house, where the woman took the gun from him and put it in the bedroom, troopers said.

Forster refused to come out when additional officers arrived at the scene.

He eventually surrendered.

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