Mistrial declared in 1974 murder case

A little over five days of deliberation was not enough for the jury to deliver a verdict for 67-year-old Robert Pilcher, accused of the 1974 murder of Mary Jayne Jones. The victim's family and friends, who waited 40 years for an arrest, now must wait even longer for a possible conviction.

Relations of Mary Jayne in the courtroom Thursday afternoon were visibly upset as the foreman of the jury told Judge Meadows they were hopelessly stuck and further deliberation would not result in a verdict. Just after 3 p.m., Judge Meadows declared a mistrial.

In a written statement, Mary Jayne's sister, Judith Cabanillas said, "Although the jury in this matter could not come to a unanimous decision on the verdict in this trial, our family firmly believes that the defendant, Robert Pilcher, is guilty of the brutal and senseless murder. It is our hope that the county, along with the Attorney General's Office, will continue to pursue this matter and one day obtain justice for my sister, Mary Jayne Jones."

Public record indicates that the state will re-try Pilcher, with a tentative date set for March 25, 2014.

"The state would like to thank the jury for all the hard work they did, they worked extremely hard," said Assistant Attorney General Denise Timmins. "Our sympathies go out to the family as well. They've waited 40 years for this and now they'll have to wait even longer."

The jury first indicated that they would have a difficult time reaching a verdict Tuesday, but Judge Meadows sent them back to the jury room for further deliberation.

Pilcher was arrested in November 2012 after DNA evidence tied him to the scene of Jones' death. Pilcher's attorneys argued throughout the trial that the DNA didn't definitively prove Pilcher killed Jones, as it could have been deposited on the bedspread during a previous sexual encounter.

Pilcher has been held in the Wapello County Jail since his arrest.