Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Sunday, December 05, 2004

Juneau judge gets Craig murder case

JUNEAU - A 16-year old Craig girl accused of conspiring with two 24-year-old men in the murder of her mother last month will go before a Juneau judge Monday.

Rachelle Waterman, along with Brian Radel of Thorne Bay and Jason Arrant of Klawock have pleaded not guilty in Ketchikan to a 26-count indictment charging them with first-degree murder and conspiracy in the death of Lauri Waterman, 48. The woman's remains were found in a smoldering Plymouth minivan Nov. 14 on a remote logging road on Prince of Wales Island about 200 miles south of Juneau.

Rachelle Waterman was at a high school volleyball tournament in Anchorage when her mother died. She is being tried as an adult.

The case has been assigned to Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins, who is set to hold a scheduling hearing Monday. The three defendants are to be in court in Ketchikan with Collins presiding by telephone from Juneau.

At the arraignment for Waterman, Radel and Arrant last Monday in Ketchikan, the trial was tentatively scheduled for Feb. 3 in Craig. The community has a population of about 1,200. About 450 people showed up for services remembering Lauri Waterman's life at Craig High School on Nov. 21, the Sunday after her daughter was charged in her murder.

Appeals Court backs Alaska DNA law

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Court of Appeals has upheld the state's felon DNA collection law.

Judges on Friday said the Department of Public Safety can collect a DNA sample from Mark Nason, 36, who was convicted of a 1999 felony assault and sentenced to prison.

In 2002, while at the Spring Creek prison, Nason refused to submit to a cheek swabbing, a procedure to collect tissue samples for a DNA profile. He was then convicted of an additional misdemeanor for his refusal. He appealed that judgment.

At the time, Alaska law required felons convicted of a crime against a person to submit a DNA sample for retention in the state DNA database. The purpose of the database is to help solve crimes committed by repeat offenders.

Last year, the Legislature widened the group required to give samples to all felons, and to misdemeanants convicted of crimes against a person.

In his appeal, Nason argued that the law subjects him to an unreasonable search and seizure and violates his privacy.

The appeal failed to offer legal support for the assertions and failed to explain why Alaska's law might be unconstitutional, considering that rulings in three dozen federal and state courts around the country have upheld such laws, said Judge David Mannheimer in the opinion.

Only two judges in the country have struck down DNA laws, Mannheimer said: one in California and one in Maryland, and both were reversed by higher courts.

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