Alaska News

Waterman faces new charges of murdering mother

Three years after the charges against her were thrown out, Rachelle Waterman was hit once again Friday with accusations she plotted with her boyfriend to kill her mother in cold blood.

Waterman is facing new charges handed up by a grand jury of conspiracy to commit murder, first- and second-degree murder, kidnapping, burglary, attempted murder and criminally negligent homicide in connection with the death of Lauri Waterman.

The 20-year-old is accused of recruiting her boyfriend and one of his friends to slip into her Craig home, kidnap and brutally kill her mother on Nov. 14, 2004. Lauri Waterman was beaten, strangled and burned; her charred body was discovered Nov. 14, 2004, inside the family's minivan off a remote logging road.

Rachelle Waterman already stood trial once on murder charges, but in February 2006 it ended in a mistrial, the hung jury ending deliberations deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of acquittal, according to news accounts at the time.

Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins dismissed all the charges against Waterman the next month, saying part of a video statement the then-16-year-old gave troopers that included incriminating statements was coerced.

In the recording, a trooper repeatedly asks if Waterman wanted authorities to tell a jury she cooperated or that she lied. That's when Waterman tells troopers she knew of the plot to kill her mother and did nothing to stop it.

The Alaska Court of Appeals ruled in December that the judge was correct to suppress that segment.

At the time, Waterman's attorney, Beth Trimmer, said she was satisfied with the decision to suppress the incriminating part of the video. She did not return an e-mail seeking comment sent after hours Friday.

That contested segment of the interview, however, only took up about the last 15 minutes of an hour-and-a-half long recording, Ketchikan District Attorney Stephen West said Friday.

This time around, the state presented the case to the grand jury without that part of the interview and the grand jury chose to indict once more, West said.

"There was evidence that she had talked with and helped and recruited her boyfriend to murder her mother, and he got a friend of his to help him out," West said. The evidence included "the boyfriend, for one thing. And then we had some letters, correspondence between the two of them, not saying exactly that they were murdering her, but what they were going to do once she was gone and out of the way."

Waterman's alleged co-conspirators, former boyfriend Brian Radel and a friend he recruited, Jason Arrant, who were 24 at the time, confessed to murder, saying they were acting at Waterman's behest. They were sentenced in March 2006.

Radel, the man who actually murdered Lauri Waterman, was sentenced to 99 years. Arrant was sentenced to serve 50 years, plus 49 years of suspended time.

Radel broke into the Waterman house, bound Lauri Waterman with duct tape and poured a bottle of wine down her throat to mimic a drunken driving death, then drove her in her minivan to a remote stretch of road north of town, where he met with Arrant. Waterman was beaten and suffocated and her body was burned inside the van.

Prosecutors say Waterman arranged for the murder of her mother because of a sour relationship between the two, that she told Arrant and Radel her mother mentally and physically abused her. The defense counters that Waterman complained to Radel about her mother but she never intended for any harm to befall her.

Reached at home in Craig on Friday, Waterman's father, Carl Waterman, said he had no comment on the new indictment.

Waterman, now living in Florida, remains out of custody on bail. She is scheduled to be arraigned in Ketchikan April 3.

Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.

By JAMES HALPIN

jhalpin@adn.com

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