Closing arguments today in Kenai trial of bounty hunters

Defense rests

Posted: Thursday, April 20, 2000

"It feels good to get a chance to tell my story," Ronald L. Williams, one of three defendants in Kenai's bounty hunter trial, told the jury Wednesday.

Part of his story focused on his law enforcement experience. Williams estimated having made more than 1,000 arrests, 500 of them with a drawn weapon. He said his career included 16 years with the Pendleton, Ore., police department, more than four years with Wackenhut Security on Alaska's North Slope, 22 months with the Kenai Police Department and 11 years with Alaska's Department of Corrections.

"You had the ultimate experience (using firearms in arrests), didn't you?" attorney Chuck Robinson asked his client during Williams' testimony.

"Yes. I was the first officer to respond to a burglary and was attacked," said Williams. "My neck was broken and I had a concussion."

Robinson asked Williams for more details.

"I shot the burglar and he died," Williams said. "It was ruled justifiable. Self-defense."

In November 1998, a grand jury indictment charged Williams, David B. Cameron and Seth I. Oehler with three counts each of third-degree assault and one count each of first-degree burglary, kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping based on an Oct. 1, 1998, incident.

Acting on a state of Washington felony warrant, the three allegedly removed Ricky Welch at gunpoint from the home of his uncle and aunt, Don and Margaret Roberts, of Nikiski.

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

Williams told the jury Wednesday the original plan for the evening of Oct. 1, was that he, Cameron and Oehler would wait outside the Robertses' home, hoping Welch would come out to smoke a cigarette. Cameron testified Tuesday having witnessed Welch smoking outside the home sometime prior to Oct. 1. However, the plan changed after Welch was positively identified inside the home.

According to Williams, he saw Cameron knock at the front door. In response, a young male, later identified as the Robertses' grandson, came out a side door and waved Cameron over to him. Williams, who was approximately 50 to 60 feet away, could hear them talking.

"Then I saw Cameron disappear through the door," Williams said. "I called Seth on the radio and said Cameron was in the house and we needed to go support him.

"I walked to the side door, which was ajar," said Williams. "And I went in.

Seth Oehler provided his side of the story when he took the stand later Wednesday morning.

Oehler's attorney Jim McComas asked him what he understood the plan to be for the evening of Oct. 1.

"We hoped (Welch) would come outside for a cigarette," said Oehler, who was positioned behind the Robertses' home.

District attorney Dwayne McConnell asked Williams to put himself in the Robertses' shoes.

"Can someone be placed in fear by a person with a weapon if that person hasn't pulled the weapon?" McConnell asked Williams, who testified he had never pulled the .45 semi-automatic he was carrying with him on Oct. 1.

"Yes, under certain circumstances," said Williams.

"If three men entered your residence with weapons, would you be in fear?" asked McConnell.

"Yes," answered Williams.

McConnell asked Oehler similar questions.

"If three men came into your home with weapons and you didn't know them, might that place you in fear for you and your family's lives?"

"If they were there to arrest someone else, probably not," said Oehler.

"That assumes you would know what they were there for," said McConnell.

"Yeah, I guess that's right."

Attorneys for Williams and Oehler called individuals to testify on behalf of their clients' character. Former co-workers, friends and acquaintances testified to their honesty and integrity and their expertise with firearms.

The defense completed its case shortly after noon.

In the early afternoon, the defense team of Robinson, McComas and John Murtagh, who represents Cameron, entered a motion for a judgment of acquittal, which would have dismissed the charges. Link denied that motion.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin at 8:15 this morning.

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