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Testimony underway in trial of man charged with SLO woman's murder

Murder trial underway for SLO woman found in Perfumo Canyon in 2018
Posted at 8:17 PM, Jun 02, 2022

Years after the death of San Luis Obispo woman Kristen Marti, a man is now standing trial for her murder.

Robert William Koehler is charged with murder and an enhancement for allegedly using a deadly weapon in Marti's death.

Detectives said Marti's throat was cut.

She was last seen alive in Prefumo Canyon on January 9, 2018.

Her body was found in the same area a couple of months later on March 25, 2018.

Koehler was arrested in Minnesota and later booked at the San Luis Obispo County Jail on May 31, 2018.

During a preliminary hearing that year, it was disclosed that Koehler had allegedly written letters expressing his hatred towards female sex workers.

It was also said that 26-year-old Marti would reportedly prostitute for money and drugs.

The trial began on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, with Nickolas Reed sharing details about his girlfriend at the time: Kristen Marti.

The second day began with a cross-examination of Reed by Koehler's defense team led by attorney Trace Milan.

The next person called in by Deputy District Attorney Lisa Muscari was Philip Furia, who took the stand to disclose his relationship with the victim and her boyfriend, Nickolas Reed.

Walking with a limp and seemingly nervous, Furia tried his best to recall the last time he saw Marti in 2018.

Furia said he had been friends with Marti for about five years, mostly meeting up in San Luis Obispo.

He talked about last hanging out with her on the day she disappeared at a gas station in San Luis Obispo along with Reed. Furia remembers seeing Marti walk away toward Santa Rosa Park.

He went on to say that he later went with Reed to look for Marti along Prefumo Canyon Road.

Furia said they were looking through different vehicles and apparently Reed recognized someone but Furia could not figure out who it was.

On Jan. 11, 2018, Furia recalled trying to reach out to Marti to check-in.

The prosecutor showed the witness text messages from Jan. 12, 2018, sent from Furia to Marti. Whatever was said in those messages was not disclosed in court.

Throughout the day, the defendant, Koehler, remained calm, often looking down.

During cross-examination, the defense questioned the witness about Marti's alleged sex work. Furia said he gave her rides but was unaware of what those meetings were for.

Furia was dismissed for the day.

Former San Luis Obispo Police officer, now Bakersfield Detective Jacob Dinsmore, was another witness called by the prosecution.

Dinsmore was the officer who took the missing person report on Jan. 18, 2018, from Marti's boyfriend.

He said Reed seemed worried.

Body camera footage shown in court revealed how Reed willingly gave his phone to Dinsmore to show Marti's last message, which read "I am on Prefumo Canyon.”

Dinsmore said he considered Marti’s disappearance suspicious, so he shared a missing person press release with news outlets and hotels.

Dinsmore was able to contact Marti’s father but he said he had not seen her since Thanksgiving in 2017.

Dinsmore recalled calling Marti’s alleged phone number, but it did not ring and there was no option to leave a voice mail.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Milan asked Dinsmore about Reed’s report.

Milan asked if Reed went to Prefumo Canyon, and Dinsmore said "yes."

Milan also questioned if Reed allegedly believed to have seen a maroon sedan and believed that Marti was in the back seat of the car but did not identify the male with her. Dinsmore confirmed those statements by Reed.

Furia, who was found a day later and was questioned by police, said he thought the car was a silver or blue hatchback. Dinsmore said they were unable to locate the suspect vehicle.

The next witness was retired San Luis Obispo Police Detective Greg Benson, who routinely saw Marti while on bike patrol.

Benson said he found Reed drinking near a business on Higuera and Nipomo streets on Jan. 15, 2018, and described him as looking depressed, timid, and concerned.

Reed asked Benson if he had seen Marti and told him to ask other officers.

Benson said he possibly saw Marti on Los Osos Valley Road on the day she disappeared.

The last witness of the day was San Luis Obispo Police Sergeant Caleb Kemp, who described Marti as problematic, a heavy drug user, and verbally combative with law enforcement.

As a bike patrol officer, Kemp knew many transients, including Marti.

Once he was assigned to her missing person case, he said he first canvassed the areas frequented by drug users.

He then requested phone records from Jan. 1 through Jan. 31, 2018, to find out who she spoke to on the day she disappeared.

After following up with several individuals, they found a number subscribed to an application called Text Plus.

Despite objections from the defense, Kemp described the investigation process,

With a search warrant, Kemp said they found over 3,200 text messages plus several sexually explicit photos and selfies tied to the defendant, Robert Koehler.

The next time court will be in session is this Monday, June 6 at 10 a.m.