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Jury selection to begin in trial over 1974 slaying

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 11:27 a.m. CDT

OTTUMWA (AP) — Jury selection is expected to begin Tuesday at the first-degree murder trial of an Iowa man charged with killing a 17-year-old girl in 1974.

Robert “Gene” Pilcher has pleaded not guilty in the death of Mary Jayne Jones, who was found naked and shot to death in a rural farmhouse outside Ottumwa.

Now 67, Pilcher was a suspect in the case for decades. But investigators said they did not believe they had enough evidence to charge him until DNA testing in 2010 revealed that genetic material taken from the bed sheets matched his DNA profile.

Pilcher is expected to argue that his DNA was present because of a sexual encounter he had in the home with another woman days earlier.

The trial is expected to last two weeks in Ottumwa.