Lawyer: Throw out teen's comment in murder case

Attorney says daughter's alleged confession was a 'coerced statement' about her mother's death

Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2005

KETCHIKAN - Rachelle Waterman's attorney is asking a judge to throw out his 16-year-old client's alleged confession about her role in her mother's death.

The Craig teenager and two others were arrested last November and charged with conspiring to kidnap and murder Lauri Waterman.

All three initially pleaded innocent to all the charges and were set to begin separate trials on Aug. 22. Then Brian Radel, 25, of Thorne Bay, pleaded guilty on June 8 to first-degree murder and waived his right to remain silent at his co-defendants' trials.

Jason Arrant, 25, of Klawock, is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing Thursday afternoon. His attorney, Michael Pate, would not disclose what his client plans to say at the hearing.

Rachelle Waterman's attorney, Steven Wells, has filed motions in Ketchikan Superior Court to move her trial from Craig - but not to Ketchikan; to delay the trial until January or February and to suppress her statements to Alaska State Troopers. Wells also is seeking to dismiss the grand jury indictment against his client.

Troopers said in court documents that all three defendants confessed to planning and carrying out the crime.

Rachelle Waterman was at a volleyball tournament in Anchorage and her father also was out of town when Lauri Waterman was killed. Troopers said Rachelle Waterman instigated the slaying by telling Radel and Arrant that her mother had abused her so severely that she feared for her own life.

According to court documents, Arrant helped Radel buy duct tape and gloves and dropped Radel off near the Waterman family home. Radel kidnapped the victim, with her husband and daughter away, shortly after midnight on Nov. 14, then forced her into the minivan and killed her with a blunt object before setting the vehicle ablaze in a remote area, according to investigators.

The remains later found were identified as Lauri Waterman through dental X-rays, court records say.

Wells' motion to delay the trial is based on arguments that the case is very complicated, that his own schedule of defending clients in other serious cases conflicts with the Aug. 22 date and that information he needs from the state to properly investigate the case has been slow in arriving.

In his motion to dismiss the Nov. 26 indictment, Wells argued that prosecutors introduced inadmissible evidence to the grand jury in Ketchikan. He also objected to an officer's statement to the grand jury regarding Rachelle Waterman's reaction upon learning of her mother's death, that she "didn't appear to be ... very upset at all."

The grand jury proceedings were "fundamentally flawed," Wells wrote. The combination of Arrant and Radel's "inadmissible hearsay," along with the officer's statements regarding Rachelle Waterman's demeanor and what Wells called her "inadmissible, coerced statement," require dismissal of the indictment, he wrote in his motion.

The state could seek a second indictment, Wells added.

Ketchikan District Attorney Stephen West's office on Friday filed opposition arguments, saying the police officers did nothing illegal or coercive and only employed techniques that courts have permitted law officers to use when questioning suspects.



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