Judge holds firm on trial date for Craig teen

Posted: Thursday, May 19, 2005

It's still not certain where a 16-year-old Craig girl will face charges that she conspired to kill her mother, but a Juneau judge said Wednesday the case will go to trial in August.

Rachelle Waterman faces adult charges, including first-degree murder and conspiracy in the death of her mother, Lauri Waterman, whose remains were found in the family's burning van Nov. 14 on Prince of Wales Island.

Attorneys representing Waterman, her two co-defendants and the prosecution talked by telephone Wednesday about the progress of the case with Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins.

"I have no intention of changing the trial date in this case," Collins said, noting she had already provided time for preparation and the defendants have been in jail.

Waterman's attorney, Assistant Public Advocate Stephen Wells, said state troopers have not provided information from computer hard drives that the state alleges implicates the defendants. Waterman's case gained international attention because she posted periodic entries in an online journal.

Ketchikan District Attorney Stephen West said distributing the computer evidence to the defense has been a problem because "all the computers in this case have child pornography on them."

He said investigators are reluctant to release the evidence without an order from the judge.

Also charged in the case are two 24-year-old men, Jason Arrant of Klawock and Brian Radel of Thorne Bay. In addition to the first-degree murder and conspiracy charges, all three defendants face charges of second-degree murder, kidnapping first-degree burglary, first-degree vehicle theft and tampering with physical evidence.

Waterman was at a high school volleyball tournament in Anchorage when her mother was killed. Arrant and Radel also face charges of evidence tampering. Radel additionally is charged with criminal mischief.

Wells recently filed a motion seeking to have the three defendants tried separately. From his office in Palmer on Wednesday, he told Collins he plans to file a motion to move the trial. It is currently set for Craig, an island community with less than 1,200 residents about 56 miles northwest of Ketchikan. This spring, the community named an athletic field for the victim in the case.

Wells said he also plans to argue admissibility of alleged statements from Waterman.

West said that if the defendants were tried separately, he would probably want Radel tried first, Arrant second and Waterman third.

Collins told attorneys to have their motions in by June 3. She scheduled a hearing for July 8, to consider pretrial matters.

The only participant in the trial who appeared in Collins' courtroom Wednesday was Waterman, who continues to be lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on $150,000 bail.

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