Mother testifies 3 decades after daughter found slain
Virginia Trimble Ritter
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - More than three decades after nine-year-old Marcia Trimble was found strangled to death, the case is finally in court.
Convicted killer Jerome Barrett is charged with first degree murder in the crime that shocked the city of Nashville.
Marcia Trimble disappeared on February 25, 1975 while delivering Girl Scout cookies in her Green Hills neighborhood.
Her mother, Virginia Trimble Ritter, was the first to take the witness stand and choked up intermittently as she described the events surrounding her daughter's disappearance and the days that followed.
Trimble, who, while remarried, was referred to in the courtroom by her late husband's surname, told jurors how Marcia left the house around 5:20 p.m. that February afternoon to deliver a box of cookies to a neighbor across the street.
At about 5:45 p.m., Trimble went outside to call Marcia to dinner, but the little girl didn't answer.
She testified her daughter's two dogs, that normally followed her around, were sitting in a neighbor's yard.
The family called a police friend and when an officer came to door to take missing person report, Trimble went to girl's room.
"I excused myself and I went to Marcia's room and I got down by her bed and I started praying that day, and I haven't stopped," she told the courtroom.
That day was the beginning of an extensive search involving teams of police, neighbors, tracking dogs and a helicopter.
Police found Marcia Trimble's body on Easter Sunday, 33 days after she went missing, in a neighbor's garage.
Dr. Jerry Francisco performed the autopsy on the young girl's body.
He testified Wednesday she died shortly after her disappearance and was in the garage at or near the time of her death.
Barrett was charged with Trimble's murder last summer after DNA evidence found on her blouse and blue jeans linked him to the crime.
The evidence will play a major role in the trial.
While prosecutors hope it will help their case, the defense team claims 34-year-old DNA could be contaminated.
In addition, Public Defender Laura Dykes said that semen discovered in the girl's vagina did not match that of Barrett.
"There was no care taken in the preparation of these swabs or slides and the storage and handling of these slides because of that the likelihood of contamination is so high it clearly is the best explanation for multiple samples of DNA present," she said.
Dr. Francisco testified it was unlikely that Trimble was sexually assaulted because there was no tearing or bruising.
Between 25 and 30 witnesses could testify in the trial that is expected to last several days and into weekend if necessary.