The murder trial of Karl Karlsen was postponed again Tuesday after his defense attorney said his former defense attorney — Tuolumne County’s new public defender Scott Gross — had refused to hand over his investigatory materials.
Judge Thomas Smith agreed to the defense motion, but said he did so begrudgingly.
District Attorney Barbara Yook objected to the delay, saying the prosecution had prepared for trial, prepared again and again.
“We’ve waited a very long time,” Yook said. “But there is good cause if they have not started their investigation.”
The mother of Christina Karlsen, Karl Karlsen’s wife who he is accused of murdering in a house fire in 1991 in Murphys, let out a long sigh when defense attorney Anthony Salazar asked for the continuance.
Yook told the judge the family is “very unhappy.”
“This is extremely difficult for them,” she said.
Salazar said Gross told him he could not release the results of his investigation because of the conflict of interest he claimed when he asked to be removed from the case on Oct. 2, 2018, a day before the trial was set to begin. The reason for Gross’ conflict of interest was sealed by the court.
Karlsen told the judge Tuesday that he did not know why Gross asked to be removed.
“I was at more of a loss than you people,” he said.
The judge said he wants to know why Gross did not hand over the materials.
“You have to start your discovery from scratch?” Smith asked.
Salazar said he did and that Gross had also denied him the opportunity to talk to his investigator.
Jan. 8 will be the fifth trial date set in the case. Karlsen was charged in Calaveras County in the death of his wife in 2014 after he admitted to killing his and Christina’s son Levi.
Levi Karlsen died when a truck he was working on fell on him at his family’s farm in upstate New York in 2008. Karlsen admitted to kicking a jack stand out from under the truck, and then leaving to go to a wedding while his son struggled to live.
Karlsen received $707,000 in life insurance on a policy he'd taken out about two weeks before his son died.
Karlsen was sentenced in 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 was moved from a New York prison to Calaveras County in 2016. He received $200,000 insurance settlement after his wife’s death. Shortly after she died he moved to News York, where he also received an insurance policy on some horses that perished in a stable fire.