Bounty hunter defense grills victim

Posted: Thursday, April 13, 2000

Truth, or the search for it, was the theme of the day, as the bounty hunter trial picked up speed again Wednesday in the Kenai court house.

All 14 jurors were present and accounted for after proceedings were temporarily halted Tuesday when one juror was unable to participate due to illness.

The trial centers around events on the evening of Oct. 1, 1998, when Ricky Welch was allegedly taken at gunpoint from the Nikiski home of Don and Margaret Roberts, his uncle and aunt, by three individuals acting on a Washington state warrant. David B. Cameron, Ronald L. Williams and Seth I. Oehler each have been charged with one count of kidnapping, one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, three counts of third-degree assault and one count of first-degree burglary.

The Robertses, a juvenile grandson living with them, and Welch each have testified of being afraid for their lives during the event in question.

However, during an Oct. 2 interview of Welch conducted by Sgt. Dan Donaldson of the Alaska State Troopers, Welch tells a different story. The taped interview was played for the court on Wednesday.

"Were you frightened?" said Donaldson.

"No," answered Welch.

"You weren't frightened?" Donaldson asked again.

"No," Welch repeated.

In addition to the taped interview, defense attorneys Chuck Robinson, John Murtagh and Jim McComas also produced court documents from the states of Washington and Alaska. They asked Welch questions about charges, warrants and debts. His relationships with individuals were called into question, including family members, friends and a girlfriend. Early in the questioning, Robinson asked Welch if his memory of the Oct. 1 events was fresher during the interview with Donaldson than it was in court Wednesday.

"No," said Welch. "This has been on my mind every day since it happened."

Welch was vague in his answers to many questions asked during Wednesday's proceedings. He was asked how long the Oct. 1 incident lasted; what time he was interviewed by Donaldson on Oct. 2; whether he believed he was a fugitive when he came to Alaska; and whether he believed he had a right to be in Alaska at the time of the incident.

"I don't know," was his reply to each question.

Welch was then asked what he discussed in an Oct. 1, 1998, phone conversation with his uncle; if he told his uncle what happened after being taken from the home; if he remembered calling his uncle on Oct. 1; and if he had told the Robertses he was sorry for what had happened.

"I don't remember," Welch answered to each question.

Shortly before Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link adjourned court for the day, McComas looked across the court room at Welch.

"Do you have a problem with the truth?" McComas asked Welch.

"No," Welch replied.

"Do you have a problem with keeping your word?" McComas asked him.

"No," said Welch.

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

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