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Timmy Brent Olsen

PROVO — May 2 is always a poignant date for the Davis family.

But this year brought increased hope, as volunteer and county crews sifted through tons of dirt in Spanish Fork Canyon looking for any sign of Kiplyn Davis, who disappeared 13 years ago.

"We had that search going on," Richard Davis, Kiplyn's father, said Thursday. "(We hoped) maybe this is the day we bring her home, on the anniversary of her disappearance."

But the day came and went with no clues. No closure.

The search continues daily, however, through the soil at Spanish Fork River Park. At this point, prosecutors say they haven't found anything.

"I'll never be able to pay people back," Davis said, tearing up. "I'm grateful for their faith, what they're doing for me. (It shows) how much love people have for each other."

Davis and his family were in 4th District Court Thursday morning, listening to attorneys argue over several motions in the murder case against two of Kiplyn's schoolmates.

Timmy Brent Olsen and Christopher Neal Jeppson were allegedly some of the last people seen with Kiplyn at Spanish Fork High School on May 2, 1995.

But their attorneys argue that the state has no forensic evidence — like a body or a murder weapon — to tie their clients to the crime.

At this point, "both are charged in relation to a crime the evidence of which appears to be only what each of them said, supposedly about whether they were involved, without articulating time, manner or means," said defense attorney Scott Williams, who represents Jeppson.

Williams argued that the men's upcoming murder trial — which could be as long as five weeks — should be severed, since Olsen has made far more incriminating statements to others than Jeppson. Williams also alluded to a potential plea deal for Olsen.

"There are events and statements that have been provided to us in discovery that relate to Timmy Olsen and his activities and discussions with law enforcement and prosecutors," Williams said.

He said the information might help clear Jeppson, but they couldn't introduce it if the trial was with Olsen as a co-defendant.

"Our understanding is it was derived ... in the course of ... plea discussions," Williams said.

Prosecutor Mariane O'Bryant said the county is always interested in plea negotiations, and that police are reviewing additional information provided within the past month.

"It could have an impact on severance," she said, "depending on what's in the report."

She said it's a complicated legal position, because if the report has information that could be useful in a theoretical plea deal with Olsen, the state is obligated to provide it to defense. However, it might not be allowed to come in at trial, being protected under rules governing plea deals. She said she hasn't even seen the report yet.

However, additional information aside, O'Bryant said she doesn't think the cases need to be severed because there are so many overlapping witnesses.

"They're not conflicting or antagonist, their (cases are) simply different," she said. "I don't believe there's enough to justify severing the two defendants."

Defense attorneys also argued that because of prejudicial media coverage, the case should be moved, even if it means driving several hours to a different city and court.

"Convenience is low on the threshold when determining whether a change of venue should be granted," said Olsen's defense attorney, Carolyn Howard. "Our main concern is the ... defendant. If everybody has to get in their cars and drive somewhere else, we're going to do that. (He's) facing life in prison."

Prosecutors argued against a change, saying the publicity in this case hasn't been greater than it has been in other high-profile criminal cases in 4th District Court, and that a fair jury pool could still be obtained.

Judge Lynn Davis said he would rule within a month on some motions and after additional information has been filed on the others.


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com