Crime

After 6 days, here’s what the jury’s heard about Stavik’s death in Bass’ murder trial

Here’s what we learned from the prosecuting attorney on day one of the Bass Trial

Timothy Bass faces charges for the alleged abduction, rape and murder of Amanda "Mandy" Stavik in 1989. Here's what we learned from the prosecuting attorney on day one of the trial.
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Timothy Bass faces charges for the alleged abduction, rape and murder of Amanda "Mandy" Stavik in 1989. Here's what we learned from the prosecuting attorney on day one of the trial.

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Bass on trial for Stavik’s death

Timothy Bass was convicted in Whatcom County Superior Court for the 1989 murder of Amanda Stavik.

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Over six days of testimony, special prosecuting attorney David McEachran presented his case for a charge of first-degree murder against Timothy Forrest Bass.

Bass, 51, of Everson is on trial for the 1989 alleged abduction, rape and murder of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik. McEachran, who was head prosecutor in Whatcom County at the time of Stavik’s death, came out of retirement to handle this case.

Stavik disappeared while on a jog with her elderly German shepherd near her house in Clipper on Nov. 24, 1989. She was home for Thanksgiving break from Central Washington University. Three days later, Stavik’s body was found in the south fork of the Nooksack River. She was wearing only her socks and running shoes.

McEachran rested his case against Bass Friday morning, May 17, and the defense is expected to put witnesses on the stand beginning Monday morning, May 20.

Here’s a look at the case McEachran made in Whatcom County Superior Court, according to testimony:

Stavik had a distinct jogging route: Through numerous people’s testimony, including Stavik’s mother, Mary, we learned that Stavik was an avid athlete and student, playing basketball, running track, cheer leading and becoming involved in band. Stavik’s jogging route was around five miles total and would take her from her house on the east side of Strand Road, past Bass’ house on the west side of Strand Road to the Nooksack River and back. From Bass’ living room and upstairs bedroom window, a person running was clearly visible.

Many people saw Stavik running the day she disappeared: Stavik’s mother and sister, Molly, said Stavik brought her college roommate home for the holidays with her. They went for a walk down Stavik’s running route to the river sometime in the late morning.

After they returned home, Stavik decided later in the afternoon to go for a quick run with her elderly German shepherd, Kyra. Several people saw Stavik running between 2 and 4 p.m., including a man who was helping his wife deliver newspapers, who saw Stavik about 350 yards from her house. By early evening, Stavik’s dog had come without her.

“We were all shocked when it happened, people were scared,” neighbor Judy Strachila testified.

Family, friends and neighbors of Amanda "Mandy" Stavik speak about when they last saw her on her jog in 1989 before she disappeared, during the trial at Whatcom County Superior Court on Monday, May 13, 2019.

People never saw Bass and Stavik together: Numerous witnesses, including family, neighbors and friends of Stavik, said they never saw her with Bass. They also said Bass did not hang out with her and her group of friends. Bass’ family, including his brother and his now ex-wife, said they, too, had never seen the pair together.

No one saw Bass the day Stavik went missing: Stavik’s friend Brad Gorum was at the Bass house to hang out with Tom Bass. Gorum and Tom Bass both said that Timothy Bass was not at the house when they were there or when they saw Stavik run by. None of the other witnesses put on by the prosecution, including Bass’ ex-wife, said they saw him the day Stavik went missing. Timothy Bass did later tell his brother that he was out hunting that weekend.

No one saw Bass take Stavik: None of the witnesses put on by the prosecution said they saw Bass take Stavik on the day she disappeared.

Timothy Bass faces charges for the alleged abduction, rape and murder of Amanda "Mandy" Stavik in 1989. Here's what we learned from the defense attorney on day one of the trial.

Stavik was alive when she went into the river: Dr. Gary Goldfogel, Whatcom County’s Medical Examiner, said Stavik was alive when she went into the river. He also said the scratches found on her legs and arms, which could be caused by running through the brush, happened before she died. Goldfogel said an injury to the top right portion of Stavik’s head could have occurred before or immediately after her death.

Goldfogel testified that Stavik drowned, but listed her manner of death as undetermined. Goldfogel said the semen found in Stavik’s body occurred close to her death. The defense is expected to introduce an expert witness Monday who refutes this conclusion, according to court records.

Law enforcement contacted Bass twice about Stavik’s death: Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office detective Kevin Bowhay, took over the Stavik case in 2009. He started a systematic DNA campaign of people who lived in the Acme area. Bowhay said he went to Bass’ house, once in 2013 and again in 2015.

At first Bass said he didn’t remember Stavik or where she lived, Bowhay said, but later remembered her death and that she lived on the east side of Strand Road.

“At that point we were kind of focused more on the neighborhood where she grew up, where it might be somebody she knew, somebody in the area,” Bowhay said.

The prosecution in Timothy Bass' trial for first-degree murder displays a video of former Chief Civil Deputy Ron Peterson describing the recovery of Mandy Stavik's body on Nov. 27, 1989.

Bass asked his family to lie for him multiple times: Gina Malone, Bass’ now ex-wife, testified that Bass forbade her from attending Stavik’s memorial and that he moved their planned marriage up from June of 1990 to January of 1990 - less than a month and a half after Stavik’s death.

Malone also said that after the second visit by detectives, Bass had a conversation with his mother and Malone in which he asked his mother if they could blame Stavik’s death on his dead father. His mother said no.

“That was one of the ones that I’ll never forget,” Malone said.

Malone was originally expected to be an alibi witness for Bass, according to court documents, but then became a witness for the prosecution at trial.

Tom Bass testified that after the second visit from detectives, Timothy Bass, Malone and their mother came to his house. Tom Bass and his brother had a private conversation in which Timothy Bass told him he had a consensual sexual relationship with Stavik and that he was worried officers would find his DNA on her body.

Tom Bass said his brother asked him whether he believed him, and then asked him to say he slept with her too. Tom Bass said he wouldn’t.

After Timothy Bass’ December 2017 arrest, Tom and their mother went to visit him in the Whatcom County Jail. Timothy Bass held up a sign saying he needed an alibi or he was going to prison and that people were out to get him, Tom testified. He then asked if his mother could say they were Christmas shopping the day Stavik disappeared. Tom Bass said he stopped visiting his brother shortly after that.

Bass’ mother is the only known alibi witness at this time.

Bass’ DNA matched the DNA taken from Stavik’s body: DNA evidence was taken from Stavik’s body during an autopsy. A suspect profile was created. Kim Wagner, a coworker of Bass’, collected a plastic cup and Coke can that Bass drank out of in August 2017, and the DNA found on those items matched the suspect DNA profile.

Once a match is made, Woodard and other scientists computed the statistical probability they would select an unrelated individual in the U.S. population at random who also matches the DNA profile is 1 in 11 quadrillion.

A cheek swab was later obtained from Bass, and a DNA profile was created. That profile matched the one found on the cup and can, and the suspect profile from the semen, according to testimony provided by Katherine Woodard, a forensic scientist.

Kim Wagner, a coworker of Timothy Bass, testified on Thursday, May 16, 2019. The evidence Wagner provided led to Bass' arrest in December 2017 – almost three decades after Mandy Stavik's 1989 death.

BEHIND OUR REPORTING

About our coverage

Reporter Denver Pratt will be in court every day of the Timothy Bass trial for the 1989 death of Amanda “Mandy” Stavik. Bass is accused of first-degree murder.

Check back weekdays for concise updates from court. Or, sign up for our Breaking News newsletter for updates.

You can also follow the reporter on Twitter @DenverPratt or @BhamHerald for live updates.

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Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.
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