Waterman Defense Begins

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The defense began arguing its case for Rachelle Waterman today.. The Craig woman, now 22, is accused of conspiring to kill her mother, Lauri Waterman in 2004. Waterman’s attorney Steven Wells, presented testimony via videoconference from Doctor Elizabeth Cauffman, a professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine. Cauffman, a noted researcher in the field of adolescent brain development, said that the portions of the brain’s frontal lobes, which govern impulse control and decision making, do not mature until about age 25, although a young person may be intellectually mature at age 16.

Cauffman also highlighted the importance of peer pressure in influencing adolescent risk taking behaviors. Cauffman said her research results show only average adolescent behaviors, and that she has neither met nor evaluated Rachelle Waterman. State prosecutors say Rachelle Waterman was aware of the plan to kidnap and murder her mother. Two boyfriends of the then sixteen year old Waterman, Jason Arrant and Brian Radel, actually carried out the plan and both have been convicted of murder.

Wells also called Craig high school teacher Don Pierce to the stand. Pierce related how his children had grown up with the Waterman children, saying that the two families had close ties. His wife was Lauri Waterman’s best friend. Pierce related how school officials asked him to drive a hysterical Rachelle Waterman home the morning that her mother’s dead body was positively identified.

Pierce related that Jason Arrant burst into the school to talk to Rachelle Waterman as Pierce was trying to take her home, and argued with him about who would best take care of her.

Pierce said Arrant then followed in his truck to the Waterman residence. Wells asked if Rachelle Waterman had indicated that she wanted to be with Arrant. No, Pierce said. He said Rachelle was in his truck, crying in the fetal position and saying Hail Marys.

The defense is trying to prove that Rachelle Waterman was manipulated by Jason Arrant, who was obsessed with her and saw Lauri Waterman as an obstacle to his relationship with her. Arrant was 24 at the time of the murder.

Defense attorney Wells will call on at least one more expert in the field of psychology on Friday.

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