Judge drops more charges

Assault, trespass charges remain in bounty hunter case

Posted: Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Two defendants in Kenai's bounty hunter trial have been acquitted of one assault charge each. Other charges -- assault, accomplice to assault and trespassing -- remain.

Superior Court Judge Jonathan Link met with attorneys Monday. He found Seth I. Oehler and Ronald L. Williams not guilty of assaulting Margaret Roberts. The charge against the third defendant, David B. Cameron, still stands, and all three men face charges of third-degree assault regarding two other victims, accomplice to assault and trespass.

The charges stem from an incident Oct. 1, 1998, when the defendants removed Ricky Welch from the home of Margaret and Don Roberts. Welch, the Robertses' nephew, was on the lam from a prosecution in Washington.

Link made the ruling on the grounds that Mrs. Roberts was too unaware of what was happening at the time to have felt threatened by Oehler and Williams.

Chuck Robinson, representing Williams, said, "There is not a shred of evidence that Mrs. Roberts was aware of (their) presence."

District Attorney Dwayne McConnell, representing the state's prosecution, countered that she was afraid, even if she did not see the weapons or know how many strangers were on her property.

The judge agreed with the defense team.

He discussed with the attorneys how Mrs. Roberts glimpsed Cameron bending over Welch and heard from her husband about what was happening, but did not know how many other men were present or what they were doing, based on her testimony.

"You don't have to see the person ... but somehow you have to be able to individualize the defendant before you can convict," Link said. "It is necessary that the alleged victim at least be aware."

Friday, the judge found all three defendants not guilty of kidnapping, conspiracy to kidnap and burglary with intent to kidnap.

The assault charges regarding Don Roberts and the Robertses' grandson, a juvenile who was present, remain against all three defendants.

After Monday's ruling, Robinson characterized the partial acquittal as one more step toward victory for the defense team.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 8:15 a.m. today.

The judge and legal team predicted the trial will conclude Thursday, and the jury may reach a verdict Monday.

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