The Ottumwa Courier


January 23, 2014

Attorneys: Use common sense


"Just so we're clear," said Cook. "An unknown male had sex on that bed."

Yes, countered Timmins, but the unknown male didn't leave sperm directly where the deceased victim's vaginal area was located on the bed; that seminal fluid there was linked to Pilcher when DNA test results were returned in 2012.

Cook had told jurors he wasn't trying to beat up on Jones.

"What happened to her was tragic and undeserved," he said.

But he'd be doing a disservice to his client not to point out that with the teen's lifestyle, other bad things could have happened to her, he said. She was 17, dropped out of high school, moved into an apartment with another teen, had a fake ID and used to go dancing and drinking at the town's apparent singles hot spot.

"That's a tragedy waiting to happen," Cook said.

Yes, Ottumwa seems like small-town America, he explained, so maybe prosecutors from Des Moines or family members from North Carolina might not understand, but Ottumwa can be a rough place. And in the '70s, as at least one witness testified, it may have been even wilder.

Timmins spent the first part of her rebuttal addressing that line of argument, speaking in what sounded like an angry, measured tone.

"How did she get herself into this situation?" the prosecution asked, then said directly to the jury: "They’ve pointed the finger at everybody except for their client in this case. Now they’re going to point the finger at Mary Jayne Jones? She 'got herself into this situation' because she ran into the defendant that day ..."

We don't know what happened, Cook had told jurors. There were multiple possible suspects. It seems unrealistic that Pilcher interrupted his busy day to commit a brutal murder between 1 and 2 p.m. in the next town over only to rush back to a local civic group's office to sell circus tickets by 2:20 p.m.

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