‘The Boulder bitches’

March 20th, 2010

Veteran prosecutors still touched by Kimball case

By John Aguilar
Camera Staff Writer

Prosecutors Katharina Booth, left, and Amy Okubo, tagged by Kimball as "the Boulder bitches," pose for a photo in Courtroom Q of the Boulder County Justice Center. (Marty Caivano / Camera)

Katharina Booth, Boulder County chief deputy district attorney, has kept the text message Lafayette police Detective Gary Thatcher sent last summer after finding Terry Kimball’s body near Vail Pass.

Her colleague, Chief Deputy DA Amy Okubo, hasn’t erased her iPhone photos of the Utah desert where she spent several days with a search team last March looking for human bones or signs of a makeshift grave.

These are some of the grim relics of the Scott Kimball serial murder case, which contained no shortage of twists and turns for those trying to get to the bottom of it.

“From beginning to end, everything about this case has been amazing,” said Okubo, a 16-year veteran of the office. “Who could have known we would end up here?”

Here being a 70-year prison sentence for a homegrown killer who four years ago amounted to little more than a white-collar nuisance in the eyes of investigators.

Okubo, 50, and Booth, 37, got to the heart of Kimball’s misdeeds by tirelessly boring into and disarming their suspect. Booth, who already had her suspicions about Kimball from a 2004 incident in which he was suspected of trying to kill his son, insisted that then-DA Mary Lacy let her take the case.

“When Katharina gets her teeth into something, she doesn’t let go,” Okubo said.

Dubbed by Kimball as “the Boulder bitches,” the two spent countless hours gathering and analyzing evidence, starting with check-fraud allegations in Lafayette and then the murders of four people across two states. They negotiated with Kimball, cajoled him, leaned on him. They finally got a two-count murder conviction and returned the remains of three of his victims to the families.

“They are remarkable, tough prosecutors, and if I were Scott Kimball I would come up with some names for them as well,” Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said.

Both women continued working other cases throughout.

Each successfully tried a first-degree murder case last year — Okubo prosecuted Diego Alcalde in the decade-old beating death of University of Colorado student Susannah Chase, and Booth prosecuted Joseph Abeyta for shooting William Andrews in Boulder in January 2009.

Whether Kimball’s case ends up as a defining moment in Booth’s and Okubo’s careers, there is no question his crimes have touched them forever.

Booth, with 11 years as a prosecutor under her belt, still breaks down when recounting how Howard and Darlene Emry laid flowers at the spot where Kimball killed their daughter more than seven years ago.

And Okubo marvels at the extraordinary combination of determination and luck that finally put Kimball away.

“I don’t think we’ll ever see something like that again,” she said.

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