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Trial to begin Monday for man accused of killing Carrie Olson

Timothy J. McVay appeared in Rock Island County Court Wednesday. McVay, 40, of Rock Island, is charged with first-degree murder and concealing a homicidal death in connection with the death of Carrie Olson, 29, of Davenport. Photo by Kevin E. Schmidt, Quad-City Times

Opening arguments will begin Monday morning in the bench trial of Timothy J. McVay, who is accused of killing and concealing the body of his former girlfriend in late December 2013. Her body was found south of Hastings in April of 2014.

McVay, 40, is charged with first-degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death of Carrie Olson, 29, of Davenport, Iowa.

McVay waived his right to a jury trial earlier this year. Instead, Rock Island County (Ill.) Judge F. Michael Meersman will decide McVay’s fate.

On Wednesday, Meersman got a glimpse of the evidence that prosecutors say ties McVay to the murder of Olson, his former girlfriend.

Sarah Walbridge-Jones, a forensic scientist formerly with the Minnesota Department of Public Health, testified that she analyzed a clump of fibers found in Olson’s hair after police found her body on April 5, 2014, in a wooded area near Hastings.

Olson had been reported missing Dec. 30, 2014.

The clump of fibers corresponded with a sample of multi-colored Berber carpet taken from McVay’s Rock Island home.

According to court documents, McVay was in the process of removing carpet and installing wood flooring. Police noted that there were several rolls of carpet in his house, according to court documents.

Walbridge-Jones will be out of the country during the trial, so Meersman allowed her to testify Wednesday. He told attorneys last week that she can be recalled if needed when she returns from her trip.

Also Wednesday, Meersman ruled that prosecutors can call several witnesses they say will testify about allegations against McVay of prior domestic violence.

One witness, according to prosecutors, will testify that she witnessed an incident between McVay and Olson a month before she disappeared.

Prosecutors also want to call an inmate at the Rock Island County Jail who they say will testify that McVay admitted to instances of domestic violence involving Olson.

Meersman will decide whether the testimony is relevant when rendering a verdict.

In a jury trial, this type of motion would be heard and decided by a judge before the trial begins. Rock Island State's Attorney John McGehee said that’s not the case in a bench trial because “judges are trained to determine what to exclude and what not to exclude when weighing evidence.”

Prosecutors have filed a list of 80 witnesses they could call at trial. McGehee estimated Wednesday that prosecutors likely will call “somewhere in the 50s.”

Aaron Dyer, one of McVay’s attorneys, said Wednesday that the defense is “prepared and ready to go.” Dyer said he did not know how many witnesses, if any, the defense would call during the trial.

“That all depends on how testimony goes,” Dyer said.

Dyer told reporters that he did not think Walbridge-Jones’ testimony Wednesday was damaging to McVay.

The trial is expected to last two weeks. McVay also is represented by attorneys Dan Dalton and Jonathan Ruud.

The case will be tried by McGehee and assistant state’s attorneys Heidi Weller and Jennifer Gardner.

To follow the trial as it occurs, follow @TaraBecker_QCT on Twitter.

This article was written by Tara Becker of the Quad-City Times and is published with the permission of the Quad-City Times.

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