OKANOGAN — An Omak man accused of raping and killing one woman in 1998, and then raping and trying to kill another woman in 2006 will have two separate trials, with one scheduled to begin Friday.

Kelly E. Small, 50, is charged in Okanogan County Superior Court with first-degree aggravated murder, first-degree rape and burglary for the March 6, 1998 homicide of Sandy Bauer. Bauer once owned the Cariboo Motor Inn in Okanogan, and was 51 when her mother found her strangled in the basement apartment of their Omak home. The murder went without a solid suspect for 12 years.

That case is no longer joined with charges against Small of first-degree rape, first-degree attempted murder and first-degree burglary for a Feb. 26, 2006, assault of a 75-year-old Omak woman. In that case, a man broke into the Omak residence by removing an air conditioning unit, and the woman was raped and strangled with a telephone cord until she passed out. She did not recognize her assailant, and the case went unsolved for four years. Jury selection for that trial will begin Friday.

On Tuesday, Judge Jack Burchard upheld his July 12 ruling to sever the cases saying evidence from one crime could prejudice the jury into finding Small guilty of the other crime.

Omak Police first connected the cases in 2008, when new DNA evidence revealed that DNA from the same person was left at the scene of both crimes — two pubic hairs found on a towel at Sandy Bauer’s apartment, and blood on a telephone that the 75-year-old woman told police she used to hit her assailant on the head.

It wasn’t until nearly two years later — in January 2010 — that Omak Police got a DNA sample from Small. Within two weeks they arrested him as the suspect of both crimes.

Small voluntarily gave police a DNA sample after they questioned him, explaining that they were re-questioning everyone who had been a witness in the Sandy Bauer case, and asking for DNA samples from each.

They also told him that DNA recovered from that scene matched DNA from the 2006 rape and attempted murder.

Three days after police got Small’s DNA sample, his wife called police to report that her husband was missing. Police later learned that he had forged his wife’s name and sold their vehicle. On his arrest, he told police he sold it for traveling money, and had gone to Los Angeles, Corpus Christie, Texas, and then Spokane before calling his wife and daughter asking them to pick him up.

A police report says that Small’s DNA profile matched the two hairs found in Bauer’s apartment, and the blood found on the telephone handset from the rape.

Police later learned that Small, a construction worker, once had a key to Bauer’s apartment. They also learned he had once been neighbors with the 75-year-old rape victim.

Small was arrested in February 2010. He has been awaiting trial in the Okanogan County Corrections Center since then.

K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512

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