Jurors in the trial of a 67-year-old man charged with the 1974 farmhouse slaying of a 17-year-old girl remained deadlocked Tuesday but were ordered by the judge to continue deliberating.
Robert "Gene" Pilcher is accused of shooting Mary Jayne Jones at his cousin's Iowa farmhouse while his cousin was in California. He was arrested in 2012 after DNA tests linked him to semen stains on a blanket found under Jones' naked body.
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Pilcher maintains his innocence, claiming the semen came from an earlier sexual encounter.
"I think, generally, the defense theory would be that Mary Jayne Jones got involved with somebody that she didn't know was dangerous, somebody she trusted, and she paid the ultimate price," Pilcher's attorney Allen Cook told the jury in his opening statement, according to Examiner.com
. "Undeserving as it is, that's what we believe."
The trial began earlier this month.
Jones had come to Ottumwa, Iowa, from Fayetteville, N.C., in 1973 after her older sister married and settled there. She planned to leave after her sister, Jacque, gave birth to her first child, but got a job at a restaurant and decided to stay, according to The Associated Press
Pilcher was 27 at the time and owned an extermination business. He was not originally charged in her murder because authorities had no hard evidence.
Pilcher reportedly had access to the farmhouse, often frequented Jones' place of employment, and asked her out several times. He was also accused of sexually assaulting another woman in the same room four days before the murder, according to Inquisitr.com
"We hope that we can get some justice for Jayne, that she can finally rest in peace and we can stop grieving so hard for her," Jones' younger sister, Judith Cabanillas, told The Associated Press at the beginning of the trial. "It's been a long road."
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