A new trial date has been set for a man accused of killing his wife in a house fire 27 years ago.

Karl Karlsen’s trial is now set to begin Aug. 28 at the Calaveras County Superior Court.

He had been scheduled to stand trial in February. This is the fourth trial date that’s been set in this case.

Karlsen sat alone for the majority of the hearing Friday while his public defenders, Tony Salazar and Leigh Fleming, privately spoke for about 10 minutes at the bench with Judge Timothy Healy, Calaveras County District Attorney Barbara Yook and Deputy District Attorney Jeff Stone.

Healy appeared to be speaking the most. He said the discussion was based around scheduling.

“That’s all we were discussing at bench,” Healy said.

While they conferred, Karlsen, who was dressed in a yellow and green jail jumpsuit, appeared agitated as he spoke to a court bailiff.

Healy said the court also planned to convene on the Karlsen case at least three more times before the start of the trial to check on witness availability and hear any pending motions.

A pretrial conference was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 22, which will be heard by Judge David M. Sanders, according to the Calaveras County Superior Court website.

Another pretrial conference was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. June 4 in Department 3, and a trial confirmation conference on Aug. 27, the day before the start of jury selection, Healy said.

“Those are the dates we discussed,” Yook said.

Healy said the trial is expected to last approximately 20 days. Healy previously recused himself and assigned Smith to the case “for all purposes” during the Dec. 17 hearing.

Healy asked members of Christina Karlsen’s family if they wished to make a statement, which they declined.

Karlsen is accused of murdering Christina Karlsen by starting a fire at their home in Murphys in 1991 to collect on a $200,000 life insurance policy in her name.

Karlsen is serving a prison sentence of 28 years to life after pleading guilty in Seneca County, New York, to two counts of second-degree murder in the death of his son, Levi Karlsen, and committing insurance fraud to collect on an insurance policy taken out days before Levi’s death.

Karlsen’s trial has been postponed due to his previous attorney, Scott Gross, declaring a conflict of interest on Oct. 2, 2018, one day before jury selection, which spurred the assignment of Salazar and Fleming. The reason for the conflict of interest declaration has not been announced.

The Feb. 13 trial date was set after Karlsen pulled his time waiver on Dec. 17 against the advice of his attorneys and demanded a trial date be scheduled. He reversed that decision on Jan. 4 after Salazar said he planned to file a continuance motion to overrule the Feb. 13 date.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or gricapito@uniondemocrat.com . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.

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