In the videotaped interview, Karlsen explained he never would have intentionally caused the truck to fall. After years of taking pain medication for various ailments, his mind was fuzzy, he told detectives. “In some ways, it’s a blank.”
Karlsen was immediately charged. The 52-year-old has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in advance of his trial scheduled for next month. If convicted, he could get up to life behind bars.
Karlsen’s attorney is fighting to keep the statement and the restaurant conversation with Cindy Karlsen out of trial. District Attorney Barry Porsch calls them crucial to the case.
In an interview with The Post-Standard of Syracuse a month after his arrest, Karlsen said his ex-wife’s death, his son’s death and even a 2002 fire at his Seneca County farm that killed his Belgian draft horses, for which he collected $80,000 in insurance money, were all just coincidences.
But Art Alexander, Christina Karlsen’s father, told The Associated Press from his Murphys, Calif., home that he didn’t think bad luck had anything to do with it.
“I think it’s a very greedy man with a very cold heart,” said Alexander, who has long suspected that his son-in-law and former business partner was responsible for his 30-year-old daughter’s death.
Christina, Alexander was told, was trapped in the bathroom after spilled kerosene was ignited by a faulty electric light. Although Karl Karlsen is credited with getting Levi and their other two children out safely, Christina was unable to escape through the bathroom window because Karlsen had boarded it up from the outside days before, saying it was broken.
“Seventeen nails were in that board,” Alexander, 73, recalled.
The insurance policy, he said, had been taken out just before Christmas. The fire happened New Year’s Day. Karlsen’s abrupt move to New York and away from scrutiny further stoked the father’s suspicions.
Even so, Alexander was surprised to hear of Karlsen’s arrest in his son’s death, and relieved to learn the 1991 fire was getting a second look: “I thought they would never catch up with him.”