PROVO The entire Utah County community is too entrenched in the tragedy of Kiplyn Davis for the two men accused of killing her to get a fair trial here, an attorney argued Wednesday.
Christopher Neal Jeppson's attorney, Scott Williams, argued in 4th District Court that Jeppson's upcoming murder trial should be moved to another venue outside Utah County.
"The focus is ... not the extent to which the county may have some people who have some familiarity (with the case), but the extent to which a case is of a nature, has a history such that it is embedded in the community conscience," Williams said.
Jeppson and former Spanish Fork High School classmate Timmy Brent Olsen are both charged in the death of 15-year-old Kiplyn Davis, who disappeared from school on May 2, 1995.
Both have been convicted and sentenced for lying to federal officials about their knowledge of her disappearance and are awaiting a murder trial.
Williams argued that hundreds of news articles and hours and hours of television coverage have created too much of a sense of sympathy for the Davis family that, while understandable and noble, is problematic for the court process and hinders a fair trial for Jeppson.
Prosecutor Sherry Ragan disagreed that the community is too immersed in the story to be fair and impartial and said having the trial in Utah County might be beneficial to Jeppson.
"There are many people in the community who think that Mr. Jeppson is a victim here," Ragan said. "A jury could sympathize with him and view him as a hometown boy who is being victimized. To say that at some point the jury might sympathize too much with the victim is not a valid point for that reason."Judge Lynn Davis said he would rule in writing within 30 days. He'll also be ruling on the same motion from Olsen and his attorney, who argued the issue previously.
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