The murder trial of Robert Eugene Pilcher began Tuesday with jury selection in a Wapello County courtroom.
Pilcher is accused of killing 17-year-old Mary Jayne Jones in 1974. Law enforcement announced in November 2012 that newly tested DNA evidence linked Pilcher to the crime and he has been held in the Wapello County Jail ever since.
Tuesday's voir dire process began with Denise Timmins, representing the State, questioning a pool of 35 potential jurors about the trial process. Jurors were asked their opinions on circumstantial evidence and witness credibility, as well as any relationship each potential juror had with each other, members of the state and defense teams, the defendant or any possible witnesses.
By the end of the morning session, four of the potential jurors were replaced due to circumstances that would make them unfit for jury duty.
After the mid-day recess, Timmins also took some time to address what's known as the "CSI effect" and wanted to know if the group of potential jurors could distinguish the difference between how television portrays crime and the trial process and what is reality.
Timmins turned questioning over to defense attorney Allen Cook at 2:30 Tuesday afternoon.Just as the state did earlier, Cook questioned jurors on credibility and the duty of juror to listen to evidence and draw a conclusion on whether Pilcher is guilty or not. Cook focused particularly on whether any jurors believed that he as Pilcher's attorney, or Pilcher himself, has a burden to prove anything beyond reasonable doubt like the State does.
Of the 19 women and 16 men sitting in the potential jury pool, there will be 12 jurors and three alternates selected, but court was recessed around 3:40 p.m. without a seated jury.
Cook will resume questioning the jurors at 9 a.m. Wednesday.