PROVO Defense attorneys argued Thursday that the hundreds of newspaper articles and television clips, plus the calls for community support, have made it impossible for two men accused of killing Kiplyn Davis to get a fair trial in Utah County.
"You can't say it's just a homicide case it's not," said defense attorney Carolyn Howard, who along with Dana Facemyer represents Timmy Brent Olsen. "It's publicity that's occurred for 13 years. (There's a) missing body, unanswered questions and facts widely (varying) about when Kiplyn Davis went missing. That is the main reason for the publicity itself so many unanswered questions."
Olsen and Christopher Neal Jeppson were classmates of Davis', a sophomore who disappeared 13 years ago on May 2 from Spanish Fork High School.
Her body has never been found.
The attorneys' concern is not so much picking an impartial jury intense questioning would weed out those with close ties, strong opinions or knowledge of the case but how the jury would respond to the evidence.
"People close to a community, when they hear about the events in their community, how they're going to feel when they hear those ... is something to be concerned about," said Scott Williams, who represents Jeppson.
Williams argued that the community has been so saturated with Kiplyn Davis news, and sympathy for the Davis family, that Utah County jurors may end up feeling more sympathy than jurors from a different community.
"There's a lot of speculation about how much this issue is embedded in the community," Williams said. "And it's tough to tell."
He suggested a poll, to evaluate how much the community is aware and has been affected by the news.
Williams said he would be fine with transferring the trial, which could be as long as five weeks, to Salt Lake City, although Howard and Facemyer have requested Fillmore or Heber.
Prosecutor Sherry Ragan said there was no reason to move the case just because of the media scrutiny. There are numerous cases at any given time in 4th District Court that attract media attention, she said.
"I think we have a tendency to think that what (we're) doing is more important to other people than it really is," Ragan said. "Because we're so engrossed in it, we think everyone else is, too. I don't think that's necessarily the case. There are many people in this county who have not paid a lot of attention in this case, or if they have, they have not formed an opinion."Judge Lynn Davis said he would rule in writing after both sides had time to supplement their arguments with other information.