CEDAR RAPIDS — The man charged with killing a woman and setting her garage on fire to cover it up, filed a motion Monday to move his trial out of Linn County based on “pervasive media coverage,” which prevents him from having a fair trial.
Timothy Evans, 38, charged with first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary and first-degree arson, also filed notice that he will claim diminished responsibility and intoxication as his defenses.
Evans is accused of killing Gina Frederiksen, 38 of Cedar Rapids, on April 29. In what police called a “random act,” Evans broke into Frederiksen’s detached garage at 1814 I St. SW and the burglary turned into a robbery and fatal attack inside the garage, police said.
Neighbors called 911 after hearing an explosion at 7:34 a.m. Frederiksen was pulled from the garage but died a short time later at the hospital, police said.
Two witnesses told police a few days later that Evans had described how he killed Frederiksen, moments after it happened, and said he had set the fire in attempt to cover up the crime, according to the criminal complaint.
In the change of venue motion, Evans’ lawyer, David Grinde, argues this case has received “saturated” media attention in local newspapers and their websites, television stations and radio stations, as well as social media.
The articles and reports not only refer to the charges but also make repeated reference to the fact that Evans had just been released from jail on April 27 after pleading in a car burglary, Grinde said in the motion.
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Other articles also mention his other previous arrests or convictions, and Grinde’s motion points out headlines from articles in the Des Moines Register – “Why wasn’t that guy in jail?” and “How a career criminal came to be freed right before being implicated in a Cedar Rapids homicide?” – which Grinde says “sums up the tone of the coverage.”
Grinde said that Evans would be denied his constitutional right to an impartial jury if the trial isn’t moved. He also requests a hearing on this motion.
The prosecution hasn’t filed a response yet.
Evans is also charged in connection with attempted burglary hours before Frederiksen’s death when he allegedly tried to enter a home at 4:38 a.m. at 2101 Haven Court SW just south of Fredriksen’s home.
In another incident, Evans was charged last month with second-degree burglary and second-degree arson of a houseboat last year. He is accused of breaking into 2411 Houseboat Ct. NW on Nov. 5 and taking items from the houseboat before starting a fire with an “explosive or incendiary device or dangerous weapon,” according to the criminal complaint.
Evans, who was homeless at the time of his arrest and has been in the Linn County Jail since May 1, is under a $2 million bail.
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