Life sentence is angry end for man who helped girl kill mom

Sacramento BeeAugust 13, 2011 

PLACERVILLE, Calif. — Michael Witt, the brother of an El Dorado Hills woman savagely murdered with the help of her own daughter, knew the outcome to be announced in a Placerville courtroom Friday. He knew Steven Paul Colver, 21, was going to be sent to prison forever.

He knew his niece, Tylar Marie Witt, 16, was taking a plea deal for 15 years to life.

But Michael Witt was the family member who had to clean the gruesome aftermath of his sister's bedroom after she had been stabbed 20 times. He's still haunted by the crime photos of the gaping wounds that took the life of Joanne M. Witt, the brilliant, educated woman who loved cooking, the outdoors and her rebellious teenage daughter.

So he let loose. Calling Colver a "psychotic SOB" and ignoring admonitions from the judge to stop, Michael Witt described in graphic detail the violence he wanted visited upon the young man in prison.

"I hope and desire that Mr. Colver experiences the worst possible experiences our wonderful prison system can bestow upon him," he said.

It was an angry culmination to a sensational murder case, in which Colver and Tylar Witt, then 19 and 14, respectively, orchestrated Joanne Witt's killing in June 2009 after she reported Colver to authorities for statutory rape.

On Friday in El Dorado Superior Court, as Michael Witt was making his emotions felt, Judge Daniel B. Proud acknowledged the presence of Colver's mother, father and brother – three people also traumatized by the crime.

"I empathize with your feelings," Proud told Michael Witt. "But there are other victims in this case."

Yet, in imposing sentence on Colver, the judge took into account the extreme violence of the crime and had "no reservations" about sending him to a mandatory term of life in prison without parole for his conviction of first-degree murder and special circumstances of lying in wait and killing a witness.

Moments later, after Colver was led away in chains from the defense table he had shared with Tylar Witt, Proud turned to the girl. He told her she had deprived her family of a mother "who dedicated her life to you."

"Joanne Witt loved her daughter. She was a protective and caring mother. She tried her best. I'm sorry Ms. Witt because the person who loved you more than anyone in the world, without reservation, is gone."

Tylar Witt testified during trial that the teens had ascended the stairs of the home she shared with her mother to commit the killing together – Colver with a chef's knife from his restaurant job and she with a kitchen knife from the house.

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