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April 17, 2014

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Judge declares mistrial in 1974 farmhouse slaying

Updated Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 | 1:16 p.m.

OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) — A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a man charged with first-degree murder in the 1974 slaying of a 17-year-old girl at an Iowa farmhouse.

Judge Richard Meadows declared the mistrial Thursday after jurors couldn't reach a verdict in the case against 67-year-old Robert "Gene" Pilcher. The 12-member jury had been deliberating for a week.

Prosecutors say Pilcher beat and fatally shot Mary Jayne Jones at his cousin's farmhouse while his cousin was away. Authorities arrested Pilcher in 2012 after tests linked his DNA to semen stains on a blanket that was under Jones' body.

Pilcher denies any role in Jones' death. He says the semen came from a previous sexual encounter, and prosecutors offered little other direct evidence linking him to the death.