Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Judge may postpone Waterman trial

JUNEAU - A 16-year-old girl facing conspiracy charges in the killing of her mother last November on Prince of Wales Island could have her trial postponed if computer evidence hasn't been given to her defense, a Juneau judge said Tuesday.

Rachelle Waterman faces felony charges including first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and kidnapping in the death of her mother, Lauri Waterman, 48, of Craig. The younger Waterman was at a high school volleyball tournament in Anchorage when her mother was killed.

Her two 25-year-old co-defendants, Brian Radel and Jason Arrant, agreed in June to plead guilty to first-degree murder and testify against the girl, who is being tried as an adult.

Rachelle Waterman, who is lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center, appeared Tuesday before Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins, who is presiding in the case.

Her court-appointed attorney, Steven Wells, has filed for the trial, currently set for Aug. 22 in Craig, to be postponed until 2006. He also is seeking to have the indictment against Rachelle Waterman dismissed and to keep statements she allegedly made to officers from being used against her at trial.

Collins recalled Tuesday that she has said she doesn't want to postpone the trial, but added that she might have to if the defense has not seen the alleged evidence seized from the defendants' computers.

Wells said he was not sure if his office had received the evidence.

Searchers find plane crash victims

ANCHORAGE - Three men aboard a small plane missing since Friday were found dead Tuesday afternoon, according to Alaska State Troopers.

The three were visiting Alaska from the Carolinas. The Cessna 207 crashed on the north side of West Amatuli Island between Seldovia and the north end of Kodiak Island, troopers said.

A Coast Guard search team spotted the wreckage of the Cessna 207 late Tuesday morning. Pararescuers from an Alaska Air National Guard search and rescue team were able to climb to the crash site and confirmed there were no survivors.

The team recovered the bodies and left by 4:15 p.m. The bodies were taken to Kulis Air Guard Base in Anchorage and handed over to the state medical examiner for possible autopsies.

The search was launched Sunday after the wife of John Phillips, 63, of Columbia, S.C., reported her husband had not checked in with her as expected, troopers said.

The other two men on board the plane were James Patrick Leverett, 50, of Charleston, S.C., and Ken O'Connor, 77, of Charlotte, N.C.

The men were licensed pilots who rented the 1973 white Cessna from Merrill Field in Anchorage to tour Alaska. Searchers believe the men took off Friday afternoon on what was supposed to be a short flight from Homer in the Kenai Peninsula.

The weather at the time was cloudy with a light breeze and visibility at 10 miles, good conditions for "low-level flying," said Dave Vonderheide, a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

Biologist shoots bear that climbed in car

ANCHORAGE - A bear that climbed into a car and ate groceries Tuesday was killed by a state Department of Fish and Game biologist.

Rick Sinnott shot the yearling female weighing 80 to 90 pounds when it continued to hang around the car parked in a rural Anchorage neighborhood in the foothills of the Chugach Mountains.

"When a bear gets human-food conditioned like that ... it's just probably going a little too far," Sinnott said.

The owner of the car called police shortly after 10 a.m.

He lives on the 13000 block of Glen Alps Road in a neighborhood that borders Chugach State Park. The third-largest state park in America covers more than 78 square miles.

Police initially reported that the man was unloading groceries. However, Sinnott said the man was loading his compact car for a trip. He had the rear seats folded down and all four doors open.

The man went inside his house and when he returned, the bear was inside. It tore up a seat but mostly was after food, including a box of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal.

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