New victim testifies in pre-trial hearing in Wilberger murder case

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by By KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 12:35 PM

Video: Sister says Wilberger suspect told bizarre kidnapping tale

CORVALLIS, Ore. - A pre-trial hearing for accused killer Joel Courtney went well beyond the typically legal wrangling Tuesday.

Details included chilling testimony from another victim, new information about DNA evidence and the defendant's own family took the stand.

Courtney, 42, faces 14 counts of aggravated murder in the case of Brigham Young University student Brooke Wilberger, then 19, who vanished from outside an apartment building near the Oregon State University campus on May 24, 2004.

Her body has not been found but she is presumed dead.

New victim

A Portland woman described by prosecutors as a "newly discovered" victim says she was attacked by the man accused of killing Brooke Wilberger.

The woman, now 30, testified Tuesday in Benton County that Joel Courtney used a gun to force her into his car and sexually abused her in 1993, when she was a teenage runaway living on the streets of Portland.

The testimony was part of a hearing on whether Judge Locke Williams will permit evidence of "prior acts" to be introduced when Courtney stands trial.

Courtney's bizarre alibi

Courtney's sister also spoke at the hearing.

According to Dina McBride, Courtney mysteriously disappeared at the time of Wilberger's abduction, then later tried to explain his absence with an elaborate tale.

"He walked through the door and said, you won't believe where I've been the past three days," Courtney's sister said. "He said 'I was kidnapped for three days and there were guys with guns, knives."

The defendant's brother in-law helped fuel suspicion, by explaining how Courtney's green van was covered in mud.

The prosecution also had another, new victim testify, claiming Courtney attacked her at gunpoint in 1993.

"He forced me into his car, he opened the door and pushed me in," she said.

DNA evidence revealed

Prosecutors also noted, for the first time publicly, that DNA evidence links Wilberger to Courtney's van.

That evidence surfaced during the final day of this pre-trial hearing.

The court will decide if certain charges should be consolidated, and what evidence should be admitted when the death penalty case goes to trial in February of 2010.

The defense declined to cross-examine witnesses during this four day hearing, claiming the evidence should not be admitted because it is not relevant.

A judge will make a ruling in the coming weeks.

KGW Reporter Kyle Iboshi and AP staff contributed to this report.

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