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Karin Strom

Edward Lewis Owens was bound over for trial a second time Friday in the cold-case slaying of Karin Strom, who was found strangled in her Woods Cross home in 1980.

Second District Judge Michael Allphin advanced the case toward trial after hearing testimony at a preliminary hearing from a Woods Cross police detective and the victim's husband.

Owens, 57, last year faced the same murder charge, but it was dismissed only a month before trial at the request of prosecutors, who vowed to keep on investigating and retained the right to refile charges.

Woods Cross police detective Brad Benson testified Friday that after the crime occurred in 1980, Strom's underwear was sent to the Weber State University Crime Lab for forensic testing. Given the technology at the time, however, nothing linking a person to the crime was discovered on that item of clothing.

This year, subsequent examination of the underpants at the Utah State Crime Lab revealed two blood spots on the outside of the clothing that Benson said contained DNA linked to Owens.

A re-analysis of autopsy results by the state's chief medical examiner, Dr. Todd Grey, also produced a narrower time frame for Strom's death because of advances in technology.

Crime lab experts initially thought she died sometime between 10 p.m. June 5 and 2 a.m. June 6. The time of death now has been narrowed to 12:30 a.m., with an hour leeway either way, according to testimony.

Additional testimony said that DNA samples found under Strom's fingernails belonged to Owens and Strom's husband, Steve Strom. The DNA from Owens was semen in the sample from the victim's right-hand fingernails, according to Benson.

The DNA on the left-hand fingernails was an undisclosed material, but semen and saliva were ruled out. The left-hand DNA evidence showed Owens was the major donor and Steve Strom a minor donor, Benson said.

Owens, who is being held without bail in the Davis County Jail, is charged with first-degree felony murder in Strom's death. He turned himself in after the new charges were filed earlier this month.

Initially Steve Strom was charged with his wife's killing, but those charges were dropped. The case was later reopened by Woods Cross police.

Steve Strom took the witness stand Friday and described how his wife had moved back home after a six- or seven-week separation and said he assumed he had mentioned how happy he was she had returned to him to Owens, a co-worker. The two men also had socialized a little outside work.

Under questioning by defense attorney Michael Studebaker, Strom denied abusing Karin Strom, despite being peppered with questions about witnesses who had spoken of Karin having bruised eyes and other indications of domestic violence.

Benson, meanwhile, testified he did not believe Strom when he said he never abused Karin because Benson said he had interviewed too many witnesses who said otherwise.

Benson said Steve Strom was believable on some things, but "Mr. Strom is not credible on the abuse."

Strom also said under oath that he "had suspicions" that Karin Strom had a boyfriend during their brief separation, but Strom said he was not really sure of the nature of that relationship.

The preliminary hearing also revealed that Strom for the past 28 years possessed two rugs police apparently did not confiscate from the crime scene. Strom said he tried unsuccessfully to give them to the FBI because he was wary of the Woods Cross police. Strom said he also tried to give the rugs to the Davis County Sheriff's Office in 2004.

While in Strom's possession, the rugs have been stored in plastic bags in a storage shed for a number of years.

Owens' next court date is Sept. 18.

Studebaker and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said the case involves considerably more information than was made public at Friday's hearing that will be made public at trial.

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