Barring any major changes, the murder trial of Steven Paul Colver is expected to begin in less than one month.
The 20-year-old Colver, who appeared briefly in an El Dorado County Superior Courtroom Friday morning, is accused of helping his teenage girlfriend plot and carry out the 2009 murder of her mother.
But after several push-backs and false starts, Colver’s case finally appears headed for trial, set to begin May 3.
Colver’s trial had initially been scheduled to start in February.
“We’re trying to get ready for trial,” said deputy district attorney Lisette Suder. “We’re still on schedule.”
During a quick readiness and settlement conference Friday, Superior Court Judge Daniel B. Proud ordered the state Department of Justice test a piece of evidence to determine whether it contains blood, said Suder.
Further details of the order were not made public.
Colver’s former lover, Tylar Marie Witt, 15, confessed last year to killing her mother, Joanne Witt.
In September 2010, she pleaded guilty to her mother’s first-degree murder and admitted to two special circumstances: lying in wait and killing a witness (Joanne Witt was allegedly planning to report Colver’s statutory rape of Tylar to authorities).
Tylar had initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Although she was 14 at the time of the killing, prosecutors were set to try her as an adult.
But under the accepted plea bargain, she will serve 15 years to life if she cooperates with prosecutors. She is expected to take the witness stand during Colver’s trial, per terms of the agreement with the District Attorney’s Office.
If she follows through with her side of the deal, her murder conviction will be reduced to second-degree and the two special circumstances will be dropped.
But if Witt fails to hold up her end of the bargain, her sentence will increase to 25 years to life in prison, the maximum penalty she faced had she stood trial.
In June 2009 Joanne Witt’s body was found in the El Dorado Hills home she shared with her daughter and, at one point, Colver.
Court documents state Tylar and Colver killed Joanne Witt because the mother planned on filing statutory rape charges against Colver after finding the two of them together, naked.
Prosecutors allege Colver, then 19, slashed Joanne Witt’s throat and stabbed her more than 20 times.
The teens fled to the Bay Area where they had reportedly planned on committing suicide. But they were found by San Bruno police days after Joanne Witt’s body was discovered.
Colver has pleaded not guilty to the killing.
According to the court calendar, the trial is set to last 36 days.
E-mail Jim Ratajczak at [email protected] or call 530-344-5069.