Bounty hunters' victim takes stand in court case

Posted: Tuesday, April 11, 2000

The man targeted by three bounty hunters took the witness stand Monday, answering questions about the 1998 incident in which he was taken at gunpoint from a Nikiski home.

Ricky Welch told the jury he came to Alaska from Washington state and was living with an uncle and aunt, Don and Margaret Roberts, and a minor cousin in Nikiski.

Under questioning by Kenai District Attorney Dwayne McConnell, Welch said on Oct. 1, 1998, the family spent the day raking leaves in their yard. Later that evening, the family ate dinner and then Welch and the Robertses retired to the living room, where Welch started reading the paper in front of the living room window.

There was a knock on the front door, Welch said. His uncle yelled for the person to go to the side door, since the front door did not open.

The minor, the Robertses' grandson, heard the knock and ran from his room to answer the side door, he said.

A man, whom Welch identified in court as David Cameron, came into the home.

"I saw Mr. Cameron come in with his gun and pointed it at me," Welch said.

Cameron proceeded to tell Welch that he was under arrest.

Welch went on to describe how Cameron told him to go out into the garage, where two other men with guns stood. He was told to get on floor of garage and was handcuffed and escorted to a vehicle. He asked them to get his boots, he said, but they refused to do so.

"At the time, I didn't know what was going on," Welch said.

He said he had never seen any of the men before the incident. Cameron, with his face painted black, and Ronald L. Williams wore camouflage outfits. Seth I. Oehler, wore a mask and Williams also had on a dark vest, Welch said.

Each of the three has been 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 allegedly hired them.

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 men, with Welch, drove toward Kenai, until deciding, after passing the refineries, to take the escape route. Welch said the men told him they had a warrant but did not show him anything. They also made cell phone calls to Washington during the ride, said Welch.

Once in Kenai, the men stopped off the road near the airport. Welch said the men told him they were waiting for somebody from Anchorage and they were going to put him on a plane. They stayed there long enough, Welch said, to smoke a cigarette.

They then pulled into the Kmart parking lot. Cameron went into the store to buy Welch some shoes. Cameron returned, with slippers in hand, shortly after Kenai police arrived.

When McConnell finished his questioning, defense attorney Chuck Robinson established that Welch had a prior criminal record, including failures to report to court and violations of parole. Welch said he also had pleaded guilty in the past of jumping bail.

In answer to questions by Robinson, Welch said he had failed to appear for an Aug. 31, 1998, court date in Washington and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Welch said he came to Alaska without the consent of his parole officer and agreed he was in violation of the parole when Cameron came into the Robertses' home.

But, Welch explained, as a result of Robinson's questioning, that he borrowed the money to come to Alaska to stay with his uncle and aunt, with the intention of borrowing the $1,000 he needed to pay off bail debts.

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

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