The Ottumwa Courier

January 27, 2014

Jury in Pilcher trial to return Tuesday morning

By JOSH VARDAMAN
Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — After a weekend break from deciding on a verdict in the murder trial of Robert “Gene” Pilcher, the jury came back to the Wapello County Courthouse Monday to deliberate further but again could not come to a decision.

Pilcher is being charged with the 1974 murder of Mary Jayne Jones, a 17-year-old girl who had moved to Ottumwa just months before being murdered in a farmhouse a few miles west of the city.

The trial entered its third week on Monday with its second full day of jury deliberations. The attorneys representing both Pilcher and the state of Iowa wrapped up their cases on Thursday before the jury went into a short period of deliberations Thursday evening.

Prosecuting attorney Denise Timmins and defense attorney Allan Cook both mentioned in their closing statements Thursday that this is an open-and-shut case, but the jury’s deliberations are making it seem anything but open-and-shut.

After failing to come to a decision Thursday, the jury spent all day Friday discussing the case but was again unable to come to a conclusion on Pilcher’s fate, and they were sent home for the weekend.

The jury came back Monday at 9 a.m. with hope that a decision would be made, but yet again they were sent home by Judge Richard Meadows at approximately 4:30 p.m. with no verdict met.

The complexities of the case may be making the decision process more difficult. The crime was committed 40 years ago, so a good deal of the evidence being presented is very old and some of the witnesses in the case have passed away. This means the jury is deliberating under more complicated-than-usual circumstances.

Court will be back in session at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Wapello County Courthouse as the jury continues deliberations.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh