Trial begins in 40-year-old murder case

Jury selection finished up Wednesday.

The prosecution continued presenting its case in the first full day of testimony in the Robert Pilcher murder trial in the 1974 death of Mary Jayne Jones.

The most emotional testimony Thursday came from the state's first witness, Jacque Williams, Jones' older sister.

Williams moved to Ottumwa, where her husband was from, in 1971. When she became pregnant, her 17-year-old sister moved in with her, planning to help with the baby.

Williams described her younger sister as physically petite, and very bubbly and kind; the "nicest" of the three sisters.

It was Williams who was delegated the task of informing the rest of her family of her younger sisterâ??s death.

â??I had to call my parents, and tell my parents. Had to call my father, call my. Other, tell them that my sister had been murdered. And it was very, very, very difficult,â?? said Williams.

Following William's testimony, Max Marlin, Pilcher's cousin who owned the farmhouse where Jones' body was found, testified that he never knew Jones personally and did not recognize her when police showed him pictures. Marlin said he was friendly with Pilcher, and Pilcher often visited his farmhouse. Marlin was in California during the time Jones was killed.

Thursday afternoon the questioning continued with DCI agent Michael Peterson. In 1974, Peterson was called to the farmhouse in Blakesburg where Jones was found. The jury saw photos of the outside and inside of the farmhouse, as well as the first photos of mary jayne's body.

The friends and family members of jones in the courtroom today were visibly upset by the crime scene and autopsy photos of the 17-year-old.

The condition of Jones' body was very bruised and beaten, but there wasn't evidence of a struggle anywhere else.

Other notable teJtimony came from Kim Armstrong, who had an on-again, off-again relationship with Pilcher for several years sometime between five and ten years ago.

Armstrong testified that Pilcher once told her he had "off'ed someone" in the Ottumwa area "years ago." However, on cross-examination, Armstrong admitted that conversation had taken place while she and Pilcher were smoking cocaine.

The state will resume calling witnesses Friday at 9 a.m.

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