Judge calls Bass’ conversation with mother ‘a quasi-admission’ of Stavik’s murder

Bass’ ex-wife testifies about request to shift blame

Gina Malone, Timothy Bass’ now ex-wife, testified May 16, 2019 in Bass’ first-degree murder trial for the 1989 alleged abduction, rape and murder of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik.
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Gina Malone, Timothy Bass’ now ex-wife, testified May 16, 2019 in Bass’ first-degree murder trial for the 1989 alleged abduction, rape and murder of 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik.

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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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A woman who said she moved to the Acme area three days before Thanksgiving in 1989 told the jury in the Timothy Bass murder trial Tuesday, May 21, that she saw 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik on the day she disappeared running a route that differed from her usual route.

Timothy Forrest Bass, 51, of Everson is on trial for first-degree murder related to Stavik’s 1989 death. Stavik disappeared while on a jog Nov. 24, 1989, and was found dead in the Nooksack River three days later.

The defense Tuesday called Nancy Brown, who moved to Standard Road, near Strand Road where both Bass and Stavik lived in 1989. She said on Nov. 24, 1989, she and her husband were home in the mid-afternoon and were running late for work. Brown said they saw a man in his mid-30s with a heavy build and scruffy beard rummaging around in a station wagon with a rack on top outside their home.

The couple left for work about 2:30 p.m. that day, and Brown said they saw a young woman wearing headphones and green sweatpants running on Standard Road toward Homesteader Road. The woman, who Brown said smiled and waved, had a German shepherd dog with her.

“My husband made a comment about someone running in the rain, and I turned and said ‘Well, at least she’s not on Highway 9 and she has a big dog with her’,” Brown said.

Several days later, Brown said she saw Stavik’s photograph on the news and called the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office’s tip line. A composite sketch of the man in his mid-30s was created from details given by Brown and her husband and was released to the public.

The defense also called former sheriff’s detective Charles Frakes to the stand. Frakes initially handled the Stavik case and said that a man who lived near Stavik and drove a station wagon became a possible suspect. The man also slightly resembled the composite sketch, but he was later ruled out as a suspect because his DNA didn’t match the suspect DNA profile created from evidence taken from Stavik’s body during an autopsy.

The defense then rested its case.

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.

Also Tuesday

The state called Whatcom County Medical Examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel back as a rebuttal witness. During his testimony, Goldfogel maintained that the microscopic slides of evidence taken from Stavik’s body had degraded and that sexual intercourse happened within 12 hours of Stavik’s death.

“There is a lot of lost detail. It would be impossible to look at the slides and reproduce the study conducted 29 1/2 years ago on this material,” Goldfogel said.

While the jury was out of the courtroom, the defense filed a second motion to dismiss the case based on insufficient evidence. Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Rob Olson denied the motion, saying that he believed there was at least one juror who could find Bass guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on the evidence presented by the state.

“This is one of the things that stands out and is compelling to me, having sat here and listened, and that is there was a moment where Mr. Bass’ former spouse went into a bedroom with (Bass) where his mother was residing and apparently asked if ‘it’ could be blamed on his now deceased father. From my perspective, that’s what I call a quasi-admission. ‘It’ is the fact of the killing or death of Mandy Stavik — there is no other ‘it’ in that conceptually,” Olson said.

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.

The trial so far

The prosecution’s case consisted of Stavik’s family, friends and neighbors testifying about the person she was, as well as seeing her on the day she disappeared.

Ron Peterson, the former Chief Civil Deputy for the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, testified about finding Stavik’s body and preserving evidence, while Goldfogel testified that Stavik’s death was consistent with someone abducting, raping and murdering her.

Timothy Bass’ brother, Tom, and his ex-wife, Gina Malone, testified about meetings they had with Bass after he twice met with sheriff’s detectives about Stavik’s death and how Bass tried to get them to lie for him. Both refused.

Detective Kevin Bowhay, with the sheriff’s office, testified that he took over the case in 2009 and started collecting DNA from people who lived in the Acme area in an attempt to match them to a DNA profile created from evidence taken from Stavik’s body during an autopsy. Katherine Woodard, a forensic scientist, eventually matched the DNA profile to a sample taken off a cup and Coke can that Timothy Bass had used and thrown away while at work. A coworker turned those items in to detectives. A cheek swab that was later taken from Bass matched the DNA profile and the samples taken off the cup and the can.

Before resting, the prosecution also called two detectives who showed aerial footage of Stavik’s running route, and the view from Bass’ bedroom window.

A male juror was excused Monday, May 20, for having contact with law enforcement over the weekend. The juror was allegedly trying to use his position as a juror in the case as leverage and was sharing trial testimony with his son. One of four alternates took his place.

The defense also filed a motion early Monday, to dismiss the case against Bass, which Judge Olson denied.

The defense called their expert witness, Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, who testified the evidence taken from Stavik’s body during an autopsy in 1989 is consistent with sexual intercourse happening between six hours to two days prior to Stavik’s death, directly refuting the testimony provided by Goldfogel.

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.

Background on the case

On Nov. 24, 1989, 18-year-old Amanda “Mandy” Stavik went for a jog near her home in Clipper, near Acme, and never returned. Her body was found three days later in the south fork of the Nooksack River. She was wearing only her jogging sneakers and socks.

In December 2017, 51-year-old Timothy Forrest Bass, of Everson, was arrested in connection with Stavik’s 1989 death. Bass is currently on trial for first-degree murder.

Thirty years after the murder of Amanda "Mandy" Stavik in 1989, Timothy Bass is scheduled to face trial for first-degree murder in May. A reported DNA match led to Bass' arrest in December 2017.

What’s next

The parties have each rested their cases and rebuttals and closing arguments are expected to happen Wednesday morning.


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.