Court TV ponders covering Waterman trial

Juneau judge gives permission to televise murder trial of teen from Prince of Wales

Posted: Friday, November 11, 2005

Prince of Wales Island teenager Rachelle Waterman's trial on charges of conspiring to kill her mother could end up on national television.

Court TV - the New York-based Courtroom Television Network - has a Juneau judge's permission to televise the trial. A network spokeswoman said Thursday no decision on whether to carry the case has been made.

Waterman was 16 when she was indicted in November 2004 in the death of her mother, 48-year-old Lauri Waterman. The teenager lived with her parents in Craig, a Prince of Wales Island community 56 miles northwest of Ketchikan.

She is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, second-degree murder, kidnapping, first-degree burglary, first-degree vehicle theft and tampering with evidence. The trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 17 in Craig, before Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins.

This week, Collins denied a defense motion asking her to declare unconstitutional the law that automatically moved the girl's case into adult court. The murder and kidnapping charges are all serious enough to require that Waterman be charged as an adult because she was at least 16.

Assistant Public Advocate Steven Wells argued that the law violates the equal protection clause of the state constitution and that international Convention of the Rights of the Child provides that his client not be "tried, punished and stigmatized as if she were an adult."

In rejecting the motion, Collins noted that the treaty had not been ratified by the United States.

Waterman's age, along with the nature of her crime and the fact that she kept an online diary that people could read on the Internet, attracted international attention to the case. Her picture appeared with stories in numerous publications, including People magazine and the London Sunday Telegraph.

"It's a very interesting case," said Andie Silvers, manager of daytime publicity at Court TV. "We've been tracking it."

She said the network had not yet received word that it had been granted permission. Once it does, the staff will consider whether it will carry the case. "We haven't decided yet."

She said the last Alaska case covered by Court TV was taped from Fairbanks in 1996. In that case, attorney Gerald LaParle was indicted on a felony charge of helping a client hide money from his wife in a divorce settlement.

Collins said she has signed other requests from media outlets seeking permission for electronic coverage. She hasn't denied any, she added.

Waterman was in Anchorage representing her high school at a volleyball tournament when her mother was bludgeoned to death and left in the burning family van.

The prosecution alleges the girl conspired with two men, now 25: Brian Radel of Thorne Bay and Jason Arrant of Klawock. Both have agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder in the case and testify at Waterman's trial.

Waterman has been held at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center in lieu of $150,000 bail since late last year. Lemon Creek Superintendent Scott Wellard said she has been housed with adult women and has been a model inmate.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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