Anchorage lawyer to represent Forster

Posted: Thursday, March 04, 2004

The case of David S. Forster, the Kenai man accused of killing Kenai Police Officer John Watson, appeared to move a bit closer to trial Wednesday, when an Anchorage defense attorney said he has received nearly all the money he requires as a retainer from Forster.

Speaking to the Kenai Superior Court telephonically from Anchorage, Andrew Lambert told Judge Harold Brown that Forster is in the process of retaining him.

"He has paid a considerable portion, but not the remainder, which will not be available until 30 or 35 days," Lambert said.

"I am reluctant to make an appearance until all the retainer is in," he said.

Lambert said he is confident the remainder of the undisclosed amount will be paid and said he has visited Forster at Wildwood Pretrial Facility, where he is being held on $1 million bail. The criminal defense attorney also has visited with Forster's family regarding the fee.

Judge Brown asked Forster whether he understood Alaska court rule 45 regarding his right to a speedy trial and if he agreed to waive the right.

Forster, who sat in court handcuffed, wearing an orange jail uniform, nodded affirmatively.

He was then arraigned on a new charge of first-degree witness tampering for allegedly inducing or attempting to induce a witness, identified as "C.H.," to testify falsely, offer misleading testimony or unlawfully withholding testimony in an official proceeding.

Brown informed Forster of his rights, including the right to a jury trial on the Class C felony charge, and set the matter for trial during the week of June 7.

The judge scheduled a status hearing on the murder case for March 31. Forster is charged with murdering Watson on Christmas Day and with two counts of third-degree assault and two counts of domestic-violence related third-degree assault.

The domestic-violence charges accuse Forster of recklessly placing a person in fear of imminent serious physical injury by means of a dangerous instrument.

On Christmas, Alaska State Troopers contacted Kenai police for help in conducting a welfare check by looking for a vehicle being driven by Forster.

Officer Watson went to Forster's residence on Watergate Way in the VIP Subdivision in Kenai and reported that the vehicle wasn't there, but as he was leaving, he saw the suspect vehicle driving past him.

He turned around and stopped the vehicle in Forster's driveway, and a female companion of Forster's asked if she could take two dogs from the vehicle into the residence. Watson allowed her to and a few minutes later, he radioed to police dispatch that he needed assistance.

According to troopers, it is believed Forster acted aggressively toward Watson, a struggle broke out and at some time Forster managed to obtain Watson's service weapon, a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun.

It is believed two shots were fired, one of which struck Watson in the head, killing him.

Forster then allegedly walked into the residence, where the female took the gun from him.

Backup Kenai police and troopers responded to the residence and remained in a standoff with what was believed to be an armed subject inside the residence until 1:07 a.m., when Forster surrendered without incident.

Shortly after the standoff began, the female ran from the residence unharmed.

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