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Are Kiplyn-case transcripts admissible?

Defense attorneys say testimony should come from live witnesses

PROVO — Information has pooled up for more than 12 years, and nearly 140 people have been interviewed regarding the 1995 disappearance of 15-year-old Kiplyn Davis from Spanish Fork.

Timmy Brent Olsen and Christopher Jeppson have been charged in 4th District Court with Davis' murder. On Tuesday, their attorneys argued about why, in future hearings, they want any evidence presented against their clients to come from live witnesses, not from boxes full of interview transcripts.

"It appears to us that much of the testimony (is based on) extremely leading questions for pages and pages without objection," said Scott Williams, attorney for Jeppson. "There are aspects and portions that would not be admissible even for a preliminary context."

The interviews include conversations between individuals and local and federal officials as well as testimony from previous hearings.

Olsen and Jeppson, both schoolmates of Davis, have both been convicted on perjury charges for lying to federal officials about what they knew or said regarding Davis' disappearance from Spanish Fork High School on May 2, 1995.

Murder charges were filed against Olsen in January 2006 and Jeppson in October based on statements the men allegedly made to friends and family about killing Davis and disposing of her body. Her body has not yet been found.

Olsen was booked into the Utah County Jail Monday night after being transported from Arizona, where he's been serving time in federal prison for his 12 1/2-year perjury sentence.

This was Olsen's first time in a Provo courtroom, despite several proceedings being conducted in his absence. Richard Davis, Kiplyn Davis' father, said he was glad to see him here, knowing it would keep the case moving.

The voluminous evidence in the murder case has been organized by state prosecutor Mariane O'Bryant, who provided the court with highlighted parts she would introduce at a preliminary hearing.

O'Bryant told the judge she believed using transcripts would save time and eliminate stress for the witnesses.

"Most of the individuals have been interviewed numerous times," O'Bryant said. "I have not seen any inconsistencies. And it would be a great burden to many of them, they're civilians, members of the community, to be called to come in over and over again. I believe (I have to) respect their rights and privacy as much as I can."

Yet Judge Davis questioned the strength of using paper rather than personal witnesses.

"In light of the incredible uniqueness of this case, and the history of the case ... wouldn't the state of Utah want to call live witnesses in the case, as opposed to 20 transcript witnesses? I can't recall a first-degree murder case where I've ever had a transcript witness."

A preliminary hearing date, as well as the judge's ruling about the transcripts, could come at a Nov. 13 hearing.

Dana Facemyer, attorney for Olsen, said he agrees with Williams.

"Time will be best served ... by having someone sitting on the stand and testifying," Facemyer said. Reading transcripts doesn't allow the defense attorneys to cross-examine the testimony, and they could end up calling their own witnesses to the stand — possibly the same people whose testimony they had just heard.