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Cold Case Trials Present Challenges

Investigating a murder can be hard enough, but when that murder is decades old, a case becomes even more difficult. Those challenges are the same on both sides of the courtroom.

"Witnesses die, there's challenges as far as the law changes, sometimes evidence can no longer be found," said Vigo County Prosecutor, Terry Modesitt.

"You have problems that arise from a defense standpoint including availability of witnesses, obviously the preservation of evidence," said defense attorney, Joe Etling. 

Etling is the current defense attorney for Clinton Mackey, he's accused of the 1998 murder of Erika Case. Etling says his main concern at trial is the deterioration of evidence throughout the years.

"A piece of evidence going from point A to point B to point C, suddenly to point E, well what happened to point D. As a number of years elapse you have those potential issues that arise in evidence as it passed from person to person," Etling said.

Other challenges come when laws change. Criminals have to be charged according to the law at the time of the crime. For Earl Taylor that's a flashback to 1975, and that means extra work for Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt.

"You have to figure out what the law was at the time at that very day and then research it and make sure that it's charged correctly and make sure you understand what the sentencing guidelines were at that time, too," Modesitt said.

Joe Etling said cold cases also have received a lot of attention lately which can make having a fair jury trail even more difficult.
   
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