Jury selection underway in cold case murder trial

Cold Case

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – “Every victim, no matter how much time has passed, deserves justice, those families deserve justice,” said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley.

It’s a cold case that left investigators searching for answers, for nearly 40 years. Investigators say the murder of 14 year-old Wendy Jerome, in 1984 was brutal. She left her home to deliver a birthday card to a friend, but never returned.

It wasn’t until fall of 2020, a man named Timothy Williams was arrested in connection with her murder. This week, he stands trial. Tuesday marked day one of jury selection. So far, ten jurors have been seated.

At the time of the arrest, investigators said they were able to connect Williams to the case through his own DNA. The new technology, is called familial DNA testing.

Police say the 14-year-old set out to deliver a birthday card to her friend Susie’s house in Rochester’s Beechwood neighborhood, but she never came home.

A passerby found her battered body, behind School 33 on Webster Avenue. She had been raped, beaten, and her throat slit.

News media were not allowed in the courtroom for jury selection, but will be allowed once the trial begins.

Doorley has been speaking to potential jurors.

“We have to make sure the jury understands, here we are 39 years later, trying a case for the crime that was committed in 1984, and as I spoke to them I watned to make sure they could render a verdict, based on the evidence, even though it’s a 39 year old case. I believe during the course of the trial, many gaps in time will be answered,” she said.

Doorley said she anticipates Jerome’s mother will take the stand to testify. This is one of the first trials in New York State, to use evidence that’s based on familial DNA.

Doorley said the statute of limitations for rape in this case has expired. Williams is currently charged with three counts of murder in the second degree, under different theories.