PROVO Attorneys debated the relative size of Utah County Wednesday, as one side argued that the county's population is too knowledgeable in the murder case of Kiplyn Davis, while the other side argued much of the community has never even heard of the Spanish Fork teenager who disappeared 15 years ago.
Timmy Brent Olsen, charged with murder in Davis' death, was in 4th District Court Wednesday, sitting silently in handcuffs as he listened to his attorney argue for a change of venue.
"I think what we have to remember is (Olsen's) right to a fair trial," said defense attorney Jeremy Delicino. "All we have to do is move it from Utah County to assure that he has a better opportunity for a fair trial."
Olsen and his classmate Christopher Jeppson have been charged with murder for the death of 15-year-old Davis, who disappeared May 2, 1995, from Spanish Fork High School. Her body has never been found.
Jeppson has also been charged with murder but was not in court Wednesday. He will have a similar hearing Sept. 17, after which Judge Lynn Davis will issue a written ruling.
Prosecutors argued that Utah County is large enough to produce a fair jury pool that would not only benefit all the witnesses and the victim's family, but will also help Olsen as well.
"Just as we've been concerned about the publicity, the people who support the Davises in their plight, the same is true for Mr. Olsen," said deputy Utah County attorney Sherry Ragan. "The place to get the fairest trial in this state is in Utah County. He is from Utah County, the people who care about him are in Utah County."
Ragan also pointed out the huge costs of transferring the trial which is expected to be weeks long to another county and the consequences of forcing the Davis family to travel to another county for the future trial.
"This is where it happened," Richard Davis, Kiplyn's father said after the hearing. "This is where it needs to be."
But Delicino pointed out that inconveniences to victims or witnesses don't override his client's right to a fair trial.
"This is not just devastating to the Davises, but devastating to Mr. Olsen not to have a fair and impartial jury and one way we can avoid that is by changing the venue in this case," he said.
Along with too much media attention, the standing of the family and victim in the community and the nature of the alleged crime, Delicino pointed out the unique aspects of this case.
"Most of the other cases that come before the court on a motion to change venue are cases where nothing was adjudicated before," Delicino said. "What we have here is a state procedure that has been preceded by numerous federal proceedings."
Both men were convicted of perjury in a federal court for lying to federal officials during the investigation of Kiplyn's disappearance, and Delicino argued that has only increased the public's awareness, especially in Utah County.
Olsen was sentenced to 12 1/2 years and in June, Jeppson was sentenced to five years in prison.
Davis asked why not try first to seat a jury here, and if difficulties arrive, then the issue can be brought up again at that point, an idea Delicino fought against."The Legislature has provided for a change of venue for a reason," Delicino said. "If there is a significant risk or possibility of prejudice then it ought to just be moved, I think, in an abundance of caution."