A man charged with murdering a 68-year-old woman whose body was found in an Akron storage unit has waived his right to have a grand jury consider his case within 60 days of his June 19 arrest.

Michael J. Olson, 35, of Coventry Township, appearing with his attorney, Kerry O’Brien, in Summit County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday, forfeited this right so his lawyer has more time to make an argument against prosecutors pursuing an indictment with a death-penalty specification.

Olson also waived his constitutional right to a speedy trial. The U.S. Constitution guarantees defendants the right to a speedy trial. In Ohio, defendants must be tried within 270 days of their arrest.

“It’s a murder case right now, but the grand jury might come back with something more severe such as agg murder or agg murder with a death penalty specification,” O’Brien said in an interview after the court hearing.

“This gives both sides [the prosecution and defense] extra time” to prepare, he said.

O'Brien declined to talk about specifics of the case.

Mary Kay “Katie” Wohlfarth’s body was found June 19 in a storage unit that Olson rented at the facility in the 500 block of East Tallmadge Avenue in Akron's North Hill neighborhood.

Wohlfarth, an Akron antiques dealer who was well known among other local antiques dealers, also rented a storage unit at the Tallmadge Avenue facility.

Her family had reported her missing hours before police found her body.

A surveillance video tape showed Olson driving Wohlfarth's 2012 Kia Sedona minivan from the storage facility. The minivan was found June 20 — the day after Wohlfarth’s body was found — in the 800 block of Whittier Avenue on Akron's west side, Edwards said.

Olson is charged with murder, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Aggravated murder can carry a sentence of life in prison without a chance of parole. Aggravated murder with the appropriate specifications can include the potential for the death penalty.

During his arraignment June 21 in Akron Municipal Court, Olson pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder and theft.

Akron police have said Olson confessed that he killed Wohlfarth on June 19 when Akron detectives questioned him the day her body was found.

On Tuesday, Summit County Common Pleas Judge Amy Corrigall Jones sought assurance from Olson’s attorney, O’Brien, that Olson would continue to forfeit his right to a speedy trial should he be indicted with a death-penalty specification.

O’Brien told the judge that he explained to Olson that murder, aggravated murder and aggravated murder with death penalty specification “can take as long as a year” to go through the court system, “and he understands that, your honor, and is willing to accept it.”

Earlier Tuesday, Olson appeared in Akron Municipal Court and waived his right to have a preliminary hearing.

Jones, the common pleas, judge, queried Olson, asking him whether he understood the court proceedings and that he had forfeited various rights.

Wearing an orange jump suit, Olson answered. “Yes, your honor” or simply “Yes.”

 

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.