A weeks-long murder trial in San Luis Obispo is wrapping up.
Robert Koehler, 40, is charged with the murder of Kristen Marti.
The 26-year-old went missing from San Luis Obispo in early January 2018. Her body was found that March in a creek in Prefumo Canyon.
Koehler was named a person of interest prior to his arrest that May.
His jury trial got underway more than five weeks ago at the beginning of June.
Monday, the prosecution presented closing arguments and Tuesday, it was the defense's turn.
In a San Luis Obispo courtroom, the defense took aim at some of the prosecution’s main arguments while pushing jurors to consider that the body found may not have been Kristen's.
Defense Attorney Trace Milan pointed out that while Koehler likes horror films, hip hop and is a “prolific cheater,” he is not charged with those things and they do not make him a murderer.
The defense then hammered into the jury what “beyond a reasonable doubt” means, which is what the jury needs to find was proven during the trial in order to convict.
“You can believe something is possible, you can put all types of words in front of that, you can even 100 percent believe it’s possible, but that doesn’t mean it happened without a reasonable doubt,” Milan told the jury.
He then attacked the core of the prosecution’s arguments, using bullet points to address each one calling the prosecution’s lead witnesses homeless drug addictss and liars before claiming investigators had tunnel vision and didn’t do their job properly. He then asked why the DNA from the remains found was not checked against DNA from Kristen’s parents.
Pictures of dental records were then presented with Milan claiming the teeth on the body found did not match Kristen’s childhood dental records “close enough to be her,” once again insinuating the body discovered may not have been Kristen.
Milan then moved to the scene along Prefumo Canyon Road where the body was found, describing and showing video of the rocky and jagged terrain and claiming there was no way Koehler - acting alone – could have gotten a body there without dragging it along the terrain, leaving marks, while adding that the autopsy report only showed one small mark on one elbow.
He then, once again, questioned whose body was found.
In closing, Milan asked the jury to vote like he would vote, prompting an objection from the prosecution. The judge sustained the objection, stating the defense attorney’s opinion doesn’t matter.
Milan then instead closed with a plea.
“Save this man from his charges. You won’t forget it and you won’t regret it,” he told jurors.
Prosecutors then rebutted, insisting they have proven without a reasonable doubt Koehler’s guilt while claiming the defense was trying to create a fall man, attempting to turn the caring boyfriend of Marti, who testified during the trial, into the bad guy. Prosecutors then argued it was in fact Koehler who not only brutally murdered Marti but planned it. They urged the jury to find Koehler guilty of first-degree murder.
Jurors began deliberating late Tuesday afternoon but because of some scheduling issues, they won’t reconvene again until Thursday.
If convicted, Koehler faces life in prison.