Drowning Victim’s Mother Testifies : Woman Says Suspect Accused 2 Others

Times Staff Writer

A 21-year-old Arleta woman, charged in the killing of a childhood friend, tried to implicate others in the crime during the three years before she was arrested, the victim’s mother testified Tuesday.

Irene Avila testified at a preliminary hearing in Glendale Municipal Court that Karen Severson tried to implicate two others in the drowning of Avila’s 17-year-old daughter, Michele, in a creek in the Angeles National Forest on Oct. 1, 1985.

Severson and Laura Doyle, 21, have been charged in the killing.

Avila, 47, said Severson moved in with her two weeks after her daughter’s death to console her. During the six weeks that she stayed at the house, Severson aided Avila with her own investigation of Michele’s death by suggesting names of individuals who might have been involved in the killing, Avila testified.


But neither of the teen-age boys mentioned were implicated in the slaying by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators.

Severson and Doyle were arrested June 27 after sheriff’s investigators received information from a witness, later identified as Eva Chirumbolo, authorities said.

Chirumbolo, 21, also testified at the hearing Tuesday. She said she accompanied Doyle, Severson and Michele Avila to a creek in the Angeles National Forest on Oct. 1, 1985, but was not present when Avila was killed.

Chirumbolo, who also testified at a preliminary hearing for Doyle in November, said she had been reluctant to come forward during the past three years because she feared for her life. Chirumbolo has not been charged in the slaying.


If convicted, Severson and Doyle could be sentenced to a maximum of 25 years to life in prison. Doyle is scheduled to be tried April 12 in Pasadena Superior Court.

Severson is being held without bail, and Doyle is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at Sybil Brand Institute.

Severson’s preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue today.