Man acquitted in killing

Posted: Sunday, November 26, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A Fairbanks man was acquitted Friday of murder charges in the February killing of a Moose Creek man after testifying that he fired in self-defense.

But Ronald William Slater, 58, isn't free. He's likely heading for California, where he could spend significant time in prison for a parole violation.

After a day and a half of deliberation, a Fairbanks jury decided that Slater was acting in self-defense when he shot his girlfriend's ex-husband.

But minutes after the verdict, Slater was led away in handcuffs by a pair of Alaska State Troopers.

''California has already said they will extradite him,'' said John Franich, Slater's lawyer. ''He's been served with a governor's warrant, so it's all up to California now.''

It was unclear what evidence or testimony swayed the jury of 13, who all refused interviews as they filed out of the jury room. They heard eight days of testimony, including Slater's, and viewed nearly 50 exhibits.

They incident occurred when Slater drove his new girlfriend, Bridget Whitsel, to the Moose Creek trailer of her ex-husband, Alan Hultberg, 43.

From the time Slater and Whitsel moved in together a few weeks before the Feb. 15 incident, the defense argued, Hultberg had threatened harm to Slater through friends and acquaintances.

But Hultberg had picked up a prescription for Whitsel, and she decided to go to his home that day and get the pills.

Taking a rifle along, Slater accompanied her. He parked out of sight approximately 200 feet from Hultberg's house. When Hultberg came down the road, Slater said he warned the man to back away.

The defense said Hultberg reached for his pocket, and Slater then fired the .300 Magnum rifle, hitting Hultberg in the chest and killing him. The pair then fled, and Hultberg was found by a pizza delivery driver.

''It's bittersweet in the sense that he was here hoping to start a new life,'' Franich said. ''He doesn't want to go back to jail in California. He had a good life here in Alaska.''

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