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Trio gets joint trial in murder

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Posted: Friday, August 20, 2004 12:00 am

All three defendants charged in the 2002 murder of a Georgetown woman will face a jury together.

Timothy Crabtree, David Dressman and Stephanie Olson are slated for a Feb. 7, 2005, jury trial on charges they face in connection with the death of Diane Snellen, but their attorneys say the consolidation will harm their clients' case.

Olson's mother, Diane Snellen, 41, was found stabbed multiple times in the head, chest and lungs with a butcher knife on June 6, 2002, at her home at 109 N. Colonial Heights Drive.

Olson has pleaded not guilty to a charge of complicity to murder in connection with her mother's death. She had originally been scheduled for a jury trial on Aug. 19.

Olson's ex-boyfriend, Dressman, 20, of Florence, and Crabtree, 25, of Georgetown, have each pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. Crabtree has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of soliciting the murder of Dressman.

On Aug. 11, Scott Circuit Court Judge Paul Isaacs granted a motion to consolidate the trials after Commonwealth Attorney Gordie Shaw filed a reply to the defendants' objections to being tried together.

All of the defendants' attorneys had objected to the consolidation, arguing that the other defendants would make statements that would incriminate their client.

In addition, Olson's attorney, Rodney Barnes, objected to Olson being tried with Crabtree and Dressman, saying the evidence against Olson was weak and that Dressman would like Olson to testify for him.

Crabtree's attorney, Rebecca Lytle, objected to the consolidation, arguing that there is more evidence against the other defendants, that Olson's and Dressman's presence limits Crabtree to testify in his own defense and that Crabtree could not force the other defendants to testify on his behalf.

However, while each defendant can make a decision about testifying in the case and have no way of compelling another defendant to testify, holding separate trials "would not cure that problem," Isaacs wrote in his decision to hold a joint trial.

In separate trials, the defendants would have "no greater authority" to call the other defendants unless they had been acquitted or convicted of all charges and all appeals had been exhausted, the judge wrote.

Isaacs also disagreed with other reasons for the attorneys' objections to a consolidated trial. The attorneys failed to spell out "any details concerning the strength or weakness of the Commonwealth's case" against their clients and had not shown that statements made by defendants "could not be redacted in order to cure any potential prejudice," he wrote.

However, Isaacs did find one of the statements, which an inmate alleges was made to him by Crabtree, to be of such a nature that it "does present potential problems." However, Isaacs wrote that he has no knowledge that the Commonwealth intends to introduce the statement.

An in-chambers status hearing in the case has been set for 3:30 p.m. Oct. 1.

Dressman is being held on a $500,000 full-cash bond at the Grant County Detention Center. Crabtree is being held on a $600,000 full-cash bond at the Scott County Detention Center, where Olson is being held on a $100,000 full-cash bond.

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