Bounty hunter trial heats up docket in Kenai

Posted: Sunday, April 09, 2000

Kenai's Court Room A was filled to overflowing Friday, as the bounty hunters' jury trial got under way.

The trial stems from an October 1, 1998, incident when three individuals, acting as bounty hunters, abducted Ricky Welch, wanted in Washington, from the home of Nikiski residents Donald and Margaret Roberts.

Also living in the home at the time was Roberts' juvenile grandson.

The three bounty hunters, David B. Cameron, Ronald L. Williams and Seth I. Oehler, each were charged with three counts of third-degree assault and one count of first-degree burglary, as was Stephen A. Arturo, an Anchorage process server who hired the three.

According to court documents, Arturo offered Cameron $1,000 to collar Welch, and Cameron enlisted the aid of Williams and Oehler to pick him up.

The bounty hunters allegedly donned camouflage clothing, face paint and ski masks and entered the home carrying two .45 caliber pistols and a 12-gauge shotgun.

Kenai District Attorney Dwayne McConnell gave the Robertses an opportunity to tell their version of what happened that evening.

Defense attorneys Chuck Robinson, John Murtagh and Jim McComas followed, peppering the witnesses with questions.

Issues of who saw what were re-enacted for the jurors. A mockup of the entryway to the Robertses' home had been erected in the Court House hallway. As the judge and jury watched, Don Roberts was directed to show where he had been standing when Welch was taken from the home.

The assault charges are class C felonies punishable by up to a $50,000 fine and up to five years in prison for each count. The burglary charge is a class B felony punishable by up to a $50,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.

The trial reconvenes Monday at 8:15 a.m.

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