Olsen Murder Trial: Day 1

The capital murder trial of Christian Olsen is underway as the state lays out its case against the 21-year-old.

During testimony Monday afternoon, a video was shown of an interview from June 6, 2007, the day Olsen was arrested for credit card abuse, accused of stealing Etta Jean Westbrook's card days earlier.

During that interview, Olsen is shown in the video confessing to the murder of Westbrook, his 68-year-old neighbor, on June 4 of that year. Olsen said he was returning a baking pan to Westbrook, and blacked out after picking up a metal object. He said when he snapped out of it, Westbrook was dead. (Click here for portions of the transcript from that interview)

Follow along with the trial by clicking over to the Live Blog section where News 3's Steve Fullhart is blogging live from the courtroom when court is in session.

Surveillance video from numerous stores around the Twin Cities was also shown. In the videos, Olsen is shown using what the state and authorities claim was Westbrook's credit card, taken following the murder according to the state. Receipts with Westbrook's card information were presented that matched the times surveillance showed the Olsen purchases.

Olsen initially claimed to police in his interview that he had found the card in the street, but later recanted in his confession to the murder.

In its opening statement, the state said it would prove Olsen struck Westbrook two-dozen times, putting holes in her skull. They also claimed she had been strangled.

Just prior, Olsen, through an attorney, pleaded not guilty to capital murder. The state is seeking the death penalty.

Among the other witnesses Monday morning were the two sons of Westbrook, who received word of their mother's death on the morning of June 4. Randy and Curtis Westbrook came from out of town.

Later on the 4th, Randy recalled going to neighbor's homes to ask if they had seen anything suspicious. He encountered Olsen, who when asked, said he had not seen any suspicious vehicles. The two men shook hands, and Randy left.

Etta Jean's sons and best friend described Westbrook as a meticulous cleaner of her home. That friend, Hazel Ogden, was called by alarm company late on June 3. She was a secondary contact for Westbrook if her alarm went off. A storm that night is believed to have triggered it.

Ogden and an officer, who also testified, eventually saw Westbrook's body through a window and entered the home.

Tuesday, the state will likely present crime scene photos, including of the body of Westbrook.


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