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Colver murder trial: Crime scene discussed

By May 18, 2011

Steven Colver heads back to the courtroom following a break in his murder trial in Placerville. Village Life photo by Pat Dollins

Colver trial d

Steven Colver heads back to the courtroom following a break in his murder trial in Placerville. Village Life photo by Pat Dollins

The gruesome aftermath of Joanne Witt’s murder was on display in Placerville’s Main Street courthouse Wednesday morning as jurors came face-to-face with images of the El Dorado Hills woman’s violent death.

Witt, 47, was stabbed to death in her bed in June 2009.

Witt’s teenage daughter, Tylar, has already pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of her mother.

Tylar’s former lover, Steven “Boston” Colver, 21, also stands accused of killing the single mother.

Colver’s attorney, Dain Weiner, told jurors during Tuesday’s opening statements that Tylar Witt, then 14, acted alone.

Colver, according to the attorney, told friends he committed the murder in a “misguided” attempt to protect the girl with whom he was smitten.

On Wednesday, deputy district attorney Lisette Suder displayed photos of the crime scene for jurors as El Dorado County sheriff’s Det. Mike Lensing testified as to what investigators found at Witt’s Tattinger Court home.

Joanne Witt was found in her bed, lifeless, on June 15, 2009 by deputies performing a welfare check.

As Suder displayed the bloody photos on a projector screen, Lensing told the court that nothing in Witt’s bedroom looked disheveled, including her bedsheets.

Lensing said Joanne Witt suffered large incisions to her neck, as well as cuts to her hands. By the time investigators found her body, blood had pooled on both sides of her neck.

Although prosecutors allege Witt was stabbed more than 20 times, Lensing noted that Witt died without much of a struggle.

He did point out “minor blood smears” on her left leg. The smears, according to Lensing, resembled human fingertips.

A photograph of the contents of Joanne Witt’s bedside nightstand was also shown.

In the nightstand was a book titled “Parenting Your Out-Of-Control Teenager: 7 Steps to Reestablish Authority and Reclaim Love.”

Witt’s purse was found on a small couch next to the bed. In it, according to Lensing, was an empty brandy bottle.

The detective also discussed a possible murder weapon: A 10-inch chef’s knife, the bloody imprints of which were found on the bedsheets underneath Joanne Witt’s body.

At the time of Witt’s slaying, Colver, then 19, worked at Rubio’s Mexican Grill in Folsom. Lensing said the eatery had five such chef’s knives. Whether Colver took one, though, Lensing couldn’t say, as the restaurant kept no records of missing cutlery.

Colver’s attorney, though, was quick to point out that large chef’s knives are common.

Weiner drew attention to a knife block found in the kitchen of Witt’s home. Several large knives were missing from the block, but Lensing said he was unaware whether authorities searched for them.

Weiner also questioned the security of the crime scene, asking Lensing if he knew that the Witt family dogs had entered Joanne Witt’s bedroom after deputies left the scene.

One of the dogs, Weiner said, was found with what appeared to be blood on his whiskers and around his muzzle, but no follow-up testing was done on the animal.

Also called to testify Wednesday was former sheriff’s deputy Tim Anglin, who testified about a conversation he had with Colver weeks before Joanne Witt was killed.

Anglin contacted Colver in May 2009 after learning he might have had sexual relations with an underage girl while living with the Witts.

The recorded conversation was played for the jurors. In it, Colver tells Anglin that he and Tylar were not lovers and that he saw her as a little sister.

When pressed by the deputy, Colver later admits that he “liked” Tylar.

Colver is accused of killing Joanne Witt in June 2009 after learning she had contacted deputies to report the statutory rape of her daughter by Colver.

Prosecutors allege Colver and Tylar Witt murdered Joanne before fleeing to San Francisco, where they committed an unsuccessful suicide attempt by eating rat poison.

Joanne Witt’s body was discovered on June 15, 2009. On June 17, the two teens were found by San Bruno police.

Tylar Witt pleaded guilty to her mother’s murder last year. She will be called to testify against Colver. If she fulfills her plea agreement, her conviction will be reduced to a second-degree murder charge.

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Jim Ratajczak


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