When 16-year-old Tylar Marie Witt confessed to killing her mother in the hopes of receiving a lesser sentence, she agreed to lead authorities to the knife allegedly used by her former boyfriend, Steven “Boston” Colver.
But testimony Tuesday afternoon in a Placerville courtroom revealed that the weapon used in the June 12, 2009, murder of Joanne Witt has yet to be found, despite the teen’s apparent cooperation.
El Dorado County district attorney’s investigator Shawn Eastman testified Tuesday that Tylar Witt, after striking a deal with prosecutors last year, told authorities that the murder weapon was tossed down a large drain outside of Colver’s father’s home in El Dorado Hills.
Prosecutors claim Colver, livid with Joanne Witt filing a statutory rape report against him after finding her then 14-year-old daughter naked in his room, stabbed the 47-year-old single mother more than 20 times.
An initial search of the drain yielded nothing, so authorities returned at a later date with help from the El Dorado County Department of Transportation. Again, no knife.
Even after searching a drainage ditch and parts of Folsom Lake, Eastman said the murder weapon was not found.
Eastman speculated that storms could have washed the knife away, keeping it hidden from investigators.
Part of Tylar Witt’s plea deal hinged upon her complete honesty with authorities. If she is deemed cooperative and honest with prosecutors, she could receive a lesser second-degree murder conviction, punishable by 15 years to life in prison.
Colver’s defense attorney, Dain Weiner, previously told jurors that his client played no role in Joanne Witt’s killing. Instead, the attorney said Tylar Witt acted alone in her mother’s death and that Colver, hopelessly smitten with the girl, did his best to protect her by telling friends he committed the crime.
When Tylar took the stand last week, Weiner attacked her credibility as a witness, pointing to lies she told to investigators and attorneys, as well as during pretrial testimony.
Tylar Witt acknowledged lying on the stand, but said she has been honest since reaching the deal with prosecutors. The reason for her change of heart, according to the girl, stemmed from her discovering her faith in God while in Juvenile Hall.
Although the prosecution has yet to rest its case, several defense witnesses were called out of order for the sake of scheduling.
One witness, Roseanne Perez, of Shingle Springs’ Joanie’s Cafe and Grill, told jurors about a tense dinner between Joanne Witt and her daughter.
Perez told the court that the dinner took place the day before Joanne Witt’s murder, but had no evidence to prove her claim.
Perez said the two Witts came to the cafe for an early evening meal. As she was walking the women to their table, Perez said the look on Tylar’s face stopped her in her tracks.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” she testified. “It was a blank stare. I’ve waited on hundreds of thousands of people but I’ve never seen a blank stare like that.”
Perez said she was able to overhear Joanne Witt tell her daughter that she had filed a statutory rape complaint against Colver.
“She said, ‘I want you to know I have filed statutory rape charges against him,’” she recalled.
When Tylar Witt heard the news, she was apparently unresponsive.
“And the mother said, ‘You know, he’s in real trouble,’” said Perez.
Still, the girl just stared at her mother.
“It was as if her mom didn’t exist,” the witness testified. “It’s as if nothing existed.”