Waterman trial delayed, will stay in Ketchikan

Posted: Monday, June 07, 2010

KETCHIKAN - The case of a young woman accused of conspiring with two former boyfriends to kill her mother has been delayed.

Ketchikan Superior Court Judge William Carey on Friday set trial in the Rachelle Waterman murder case for Jan. 18. But he says the trial will stay in Ketchikan.

The 21-year-old Waterman was 16 in November 2004 when prosecutors say she conspired to kill her mother, 48-year-old Lauri Waterman.

Waterman's body was found by a hunter north of Craig, a small fishing and logging town on Prince of Wales Island. Police determined she had been suffocated after her killers botched an attempt to break her neck and make her death look like a drunk-driving accident.

Brian Radel of Thorne Bay and Jason Arrant of Klawock, both 24 at the time, burned Waterman's minivan with her body inside in an attempt to destroy evidence.

The two men pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. They are serving long prison terms.

Waterman pleaded innocent and went on trial in January 2006, but the jury deadlocked. The indictment was later thrown out, and the state is prosecuting Waterman again.

After declaring a mistrial in the first trial, Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins threw out the indictment against Waterman, as well as her statements to police, which were an important part of the state's evidence.

The Alaska Court of Appeals has since restored parts of Waterman's statement, and Ketchikan District Attorney Stephen West has obtained a second indictment.

Waterman was scheduled to go to a second trial in June, but her attorney, Steven Wells of Anchorage, asked for a delay when scheduling conflicts forced him to represent another client in an Anchorage trial that began in May.

Wells filed a motion to move the case from Ketchikan to Anchorage because he said many people have made up their minds about his client's guilt or innocence.

But Carey said Friday that polling data included in Wells' motion did not convince him that a fair Ketchikan trial would be impossible.

The judge said if he is proven wrong during the jury selection process he would be ready to move the trial immediately.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Dec. 15.

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