- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) - Testimony began Thursday in the second trial of a man charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 17-year-old girl who was beaten and shot to death in a southeast Iowa farmhouse 40 years ago.

Robert Eugene Pilcher was arrested in 2012 in the killing of Mary Jayne Jones after a cold case unit started by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation re-examined evidence using tools that were not available in 1974. Prosecutors allege that DNA evidence links Pilcher to the crime.

The first trial held last January ended in a mistrial.

Among those testifying Thursday was Rex Surber, a friend of the farmhouse owner who had fired a revolver as target practice at the property near Ottumwa soon before the killing occurred.

During questioning by prosecutor Denise Timmons, Surber denied having anything to do with Jones’ death, according to the Ottumwa Courier (https://bit.ly/1xQfXMJ).

Surber recalled investigators showing him photos of Jones soon after her death, but he didn’t recognize her.

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Information from: The Ottumwa Courier, https://www.ottumwacourier.com

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