The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

January 15, 2014

Jury seated, trial underway in 1974 killing

OTTUMWA — The second day of the Robert Eugene Pilcher trial, who is being charged with killing Mary Jayne Jones in 1974, started out very quietly.

Until 1:30 p.m., the prospective jury and counsel had only been in the courtroom for a total of just minutes because Judge Richard Meadows and the counsel retreated to the judge’s chambers for conversations about “legal issues,” which were not explained.

When the 35 prospective jurors finally came back to the courtroom, defense attorney Allen Cook continued with his voir dire from Tuesday. He questioned the jury pool about what stories to believe from someone who brags a lot, if they realize the way some people do things is different than the way others do and he ended with again making sure each of the prospective jurors understand the term, “beyond reasonable doubt.”

After the defense concluded its voir dire, each side took turns striking out prospective jurors until the 12-person jury and three alternates were chosen.

The judge granted a short recess, and then prosecuting attorney Denise Timmins read the trial information and the defendant’s plea of not guilty. Then she started with the prosecution’s opening statement.

Their statement began with describing the crime scene, which was a farmhouse just west of Ottumwa, and what Jones was doing the day she was murdered. She also mentioned that in 1974 Pilcher was one of the main suspects in the case, but at that time there was not enough evidence to convict anyone of the murder.

Timmins said that Pilcher was a frequent visitor to the home that Jones was found in because he was a cousin of the owner, Max Marlin. She also said that evidence has shown there was a connection directly between Pilcher and Jones, because he went to Henry’s Drive-In, where Jones worked, quite often and apparently asked her out on multiple occasions.

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