SKOWHEGAN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Both sides have rested in the trial of an Industry man accused of beating a woman to death more than 30 years ago.
For days jurors have been listening to evidence in the state's case against Jay Mercier. On Friday the defense got to make its arguments.
Mercier pleaded not guilty to killing Rita St. Peter after his arrest almost a year ago. The body of the 20-year-old girl was found off of Campground Road in Anson on the early morning of July 5, 1980.
Prosecutors contend that DNA testing showed that sperm cells found on St. Peter's body belong to Jay Mercier. They also say tire tracks left on the dirt road where her body was found indicates that the defendant's truck was at the scene.
Mercier's attorneys tried to rebuke that evidence in court on Wednesday. Attorney John Alsop at one point even moved for an acquittal.
The defense contended that the tire impressions left on Campground Road do not exactly meet the dimensions of the tires found on their client's truck. Furthermore they argued that the sperm cells found on St. Peter's body only indicate that she had sexual contact with Jay Mercier and do not prove that he was the one who killed her.
After prosecutors rested their case Wednesday morning, the defense proceeded to call a number of eye witnesses to the stand. A number of people who were in Madison on the night of July 4, 1980 testified that they saw Rita St. Peter crossing the bridge to Anson after leaving a local bar called 'The Depot.' Many people who took to the witness stand said she was drunk that night and appeared to be hitchhiking.
Mercier's attorneys also made the case through their witnesses that several people were in the Madison area that weekend for the Fourth of July holiday. Several construction workers were also in town working on renovating the Madison paper mill. With those points in mind, the defense argues that any number of people could have attacked St. Peter.
Mercier did not take to the stand in his own defense on Wednesday. The jury will hear closing arguments on Thursday morning before taking the case over.
Jay Mercier is facing up to life in prison if convicted of murder.