Karlsen trial rescheduled to August

The trial regarding the alleged murder of young mother Christina Karlsen in a 1991 Murphys house fire is now set for Aug. 28 after the defendant, Karl Karlsen, resubmitted his waiver for his right to a speedy trial.

The trial, which is expected to span 20 days, was previously scheduled for February after Karlsen withdrew his time waiver.

Public defenders Tony Salazar and Leigh Fleming reportedly advised against the defendant withdrawing his waiver and stated last month that they would likely submit a request for a postponement. The defense team was assigned to the case in October following the dismissal of Karlsen’s previous attorney due to an unrevealed conflict of interest. 

During the Jan. 11 trial setting conference, Karlsen, 58, shook his head repeatedly and spoke with the bailiff as the prosecution and the defense conferred privately with judge Timothy Healy for roughly 10 minutes.

“I want you to know that we were talking at the bench about scheduling and that’s all,” Healy told the defendant after the meeting was over.

Karlsen answered, “Yes, sir,” when Healy asked if he agreed to waive his right to a speedy trial, and the trial was effectively set for August with pretrial proceedings to take place in the spring.

Christina Karlsen’s family members who were in the courtroom declined to speak when given the opportunity by Healy.

“I don’t think they’d like to speak at this time,” said Calaveras County District Attorney, Barbara Yook.

Karlsen spoke with Fleming and thanked her before being led out of the courtroom.

The defendant remains in the custody of the Calaveras County Jail. He was extradited from Seneca County, N.Y. in 2016 after he was convicted of murdering his 23-year-old son, Levi, in 2008 and collecting a $700,000 insurance policy on the young man’s life. He collected $200,000 in life insurance following the death of his first wife, Christina, 28 years ago.

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Dakota graduated from Bret Harte in 2013 and went to Davidson College, NC where she earned a bachelor's degree in Arab studies. After spending time studying in the Middle East and Europe, she is happy to be home, writing about the community she loves.

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