Forster trial date bumped to 2005

Posted: Sunday, September 12, 2004

The trial date for the man accused of killing Kenai Police Officer John Watson was moved to next year to allow the court time to consider a defense motion to suppress evidence.

The murder trial of David S. Forster, 34, of Kenai, charged with shooting Watson to death on Christmas last year, had been scheduled to begin Nov. 1.

On Thursday, Judge Donald Hopwood, speaking telephonically from Kodiak, rescheduled the trial for Feb. 28, 2005, so the court could meet on the motion to suppress during the week of Nov. 1, and to provide ample time for any mental health evaluations that may be necessary before going to trial.

Speaking on behalf of Forster, Anchorage defense attorney John Murtagh asked that statements made by Forster during interviews following his arrest not be allowed as evidence at trial.

"Taking his statements violated his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to silence and the assistance of counsel," Murtagh said in his motion to suppress the evidence.

Forster is accused of killing Watson late Christmas night after Watson went to Forster's residence on Watergate Way in the Kenai VIP Subdivision in response to an Alaska State Trooper request for help in conducting a welfare check.

At first, Watson reported that Forster's vehicle was not at the residence, but as Watson was leaving, he saw the suspect vehicle drive past him.

He turned around and stopped the vehicle in Forster's driveway, and a female companion of Forster's asked if she could take two dogs from the vehicle into the residence. Watson allowed her to do so.

A few minutes later, he radioed to police dispatch that he needed assistance.

According to troopers, it is believed Forster acted aggressively toward Watson, a struggle broke out, and, at some time, Forster managed to obtain Watson's service weapon, a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun.

It is believed two shots were fired, one of which struck Watson in the head, killing him.

Forster then allegedly walked into the residence, where the female took the gun from him.

Backup Kenai police and troopers responded to the residence and remained in a standoff with what was believed to be an armed subject inside the residence until 1:07 a.m., when Forster surrendered without incident.

Shortly after the standoff began, the female ran from the residence unharmed.

The motion submitted by Murtagh in Kenai Superior Court on Thursday said the state failed to honor Forster's constitutional right to remain silent and investigators questioned him after he had not, in open court, waived his right to be represented by counsel.

Hopwood said depending on the availability of a courtroom in Kenai, an evidentiary hearing would be conducted at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 4. The Nov. 1 trial date was officially vacated.

"We will set the new trial right now for starting at 8:30 on Feb. 28," Hopwood said.

"We will find out in November if there are any mental health issues," he said.

Forster remains in custody on $1 million bail.

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