Appeals court denies Rachelle Waterman appeal

More than a decade after the original crime took place, Rachelle Waterman’s appeal of her conviction in the death of her mother has been denied by the Alaska Court of Appeals.

Waterman was found guilty in a 2011 retrial of criminally negligent homicide for telling two men she had been dating that she wanted her mother dead, and then failing to warn her mother or alert authorities when she found out that the two men were, indeed, planning to kill Lauri Waterman.

The two former boyfriends, Jason Arrant of Klawock and Brian Radel of Thorne Bay, confessed to the 2004 murder, which took place outside of Craig on Prince of Wales Island.

For her role in the crime, Waterman was sentenced in July of 2011 to three years in prison.

The basis of Waterman’s appeal is that the then-16-year-old girl, should not have been judged based on the standard of care one would expect from an adult in a similar situation. Her attorneys claimed that she should have been judged compared to juveniles of similar age, intelligence and experience.

Waterman’s attorneys argued that juveniles’ brains are not yet fully developed, which affects their judgment, impulse control and appreciation of consequences.

The Appeals court conceded in its decision, which was released Friday, that there is a scientific basis for the appeal. But the judges deferred to the legislative branch of the government. State law stipulates that for the most serious crimes, including homicide, defendants as young as 16 years old are treated the same as adults.

*Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said the appeal was denied by the Alaska Supreme Court. It was actually the Alaska Court of Appeals. The story has been corrected.

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