The Alaska Court of Appeals ruled in February to deny the appeal of a Craig woman who was found guilty of negligent homicide for actions that led to her mother’s murder in 2004. Rachelle Waterman was in court a few weeks ago to find out when she’ll serve her time.
Rachelle Waterman was 16 when her two boyfriends beat her mother to death and framed the murder to look like a car wreck. The two 24-year-old men, Jason Arrant, of Klawock, and Brian Radel, of Thorne Bay, later confessed to killing 48-year-old Laurie Waterman and were charged with first degree murder.
Prosecutors argued early on that Rachelle played a crucial part in her mother’s death, saying she led the two men to believe the mother abused Rachelle, and that Rachelle wanted her mother dead. They say Waterman had the power to stop the murder and didn’t.
Anchorage jurors found Waterman not guilty of 1st and 2nd degree murder, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder. They did find her guilty of negligent homicide. Waterman’s lawyer, Steven Wells, says they tried to appeal the verdict, arguing that the trial should’ve been in juvenile court.
“If she had been charged with negligent homicide when she was 16, she wouldn’t even have been eligible to have her case taken to adult court. So that was the issue on appeal, that this ought to go back to juvenile court considering what she was convicted of. “
This appeal failed because of legislative mandates that say after a person’s 20th birthday, that person must be charged in adult court, even if they were only 16 at the time of the crime. Waterman is now 26.
The trial started out in adult court because 16 and 17-year-olds must be tried as adults if facing murder charges, which she was before she was acquitted. After the failure of the latest appeal, the three-year jail sentence stood. Wells says he thinks the court was fair, but still has reservations about the outcome.
“I don’t think that the sentence was unreasonable, I mean I can see why the court did what it did. I think my frustration with this has more to do with the statute than what the court did.”
Wells says that Waterman’s three-year sentence doesn’t mean three more years in jail because a third of that time can be taken off for good behavior, and Waterman already served some time during the trial process.
“At this point in time, Ms. Waterman went into custody in Nov. 2004 and was released on bail in Feb. 2006. So that’s one year and four months, that’s 16 months.…Since she got a three-year sentence, that means that she has to do roughly another eight months in custody unless for some reason she’s not given ‘good time.’”
Ten and a half years after her mother’s murder, Waterman is scheduled to appear at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center Aug. 31st to serve the remainder of her sentence.