On the two year anniversary of the discovery of Joanne Witt’s body in her El Dorado Hills home, Steven “Boston” Colver was convicted of the 47-year-old woman’s first-degree murder.
News of the verdict came less than 24 hours after jurors began deliberations Tuesday afternoon.
Colver, 21, along with attorney Dain Weiner, arrived in the Placerville Main Street courtroom shortly before 2:30 p.m.
Seated behind Colver, in the public section, was Jan Colver, his mother, and Richard Colver, his father, who was called to testify during the trial.
Superior Court Judge Daniel B. Proud called jurors into the courtroom minutes later and, at 2:40 p.m., Colver appeared to lower his head after learning he had been found guilty of Joanne Witt’s murder.
Upon hearing the court official read the jury’s verdict Jan Colver began weeping from her second-row seat.
Across the aisle, the mood was noticeably different, as friends and family of Joanne Witt shared smiles. One observer seated with the Witt group even exclaimed, “Yes!” as the verdict was read.
In addition to the first-degree murder charge, Colver was also found guilty of both special circumstances: Lying in wait and killing a witness.
Jurors were thanked for their service and excused by Judge Danial B.Proud. As observers filed out of the courtroom, Norb Witt, Joanne’s father, and Vincent Catapano, a friend and co-worker of Joanne’s, shared hugs and handshakes with their surrounding friends and family.
Outside of the courtroom Weiner said he was disappointed by the verdict. “I feel for Steven and his family,” said Weiner.
The attorney said his client was “obviously distraught and disappointed.”
“He’s a genuinely nice person,” said Weiner. “He’s been a pleasure to work with.”
During his closing argument Tuesday, Weiner called into question the credibility of the prosecution’s star witness, 16-year-old Tylar Marie Witt — Colver’s former girlfriend.
Last year Tylar, who was 14 at the time of Joanne Witt’s death, pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of her mother as part of a deal with prosecutors. In exchange for her cooperation with the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, which included testifying against Colver, Tylar Witt could receive a lesser sentence.
But not even Tylar’s well-documented lies to authorities during interviews and pre-trial hearings were enough to sway members of the jury.
All jurors declined to speak with members of the press following the announcement of their verdict.
Tylar Witt’s ultimate fate has yet to be determined. Prosecutors must now determine whether she was honest and truthful in her cooperation. If she is found to have met the terms of her plea deal, her murder conviction will be reduced to a second-degree count and she will face 15 years to life in prison.
Although the girl pleaded guilty to her mother’s murder, Colver was determined to be the one who stabbed Joanne Witt more than 20 times.
Colver faces a 25 years to life sentence. A judgement and sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 12.
Prosecutors claim Colver killed Joanne Witt on June 12, 2009, after the then 19-year-old man learned Witt had reported him for the statutory rape of her daughter to detectives.
Deputy district attorney Lisette Suder told jurors that Colver feared for his freedom and was motivated by his love of Tylar, then 14. Suder said Colver stole a large chef’s knife from the restaurant where he worked and fatally stabbed Joanne Witt while she slept in her El Dorado Hills home.
After the murder, Colver and Tylar Witt fled to San Francisco and planned to kill themselves in the vein of Romeo and Juliet. The suicide attempt was unsuccessful and the teens were arrested by San Bruno police on June 17, 2009.