OROVILLE >> Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a Biggs man charged with allegedly killing a woman in the Oroville Wildlife Area nearly 13 years ago.
Prospective jurors in the trial of Marvin Ray Markle Jr., 49, completed questionnaires before leaving Butte County Superior Court for the day.
Markle is charged with murder for the October 2001 killing of Shirley Ann Pratt, then 41. He also faces the special allegations he used a pistol and had a prior strike for a criminal threats conviction in 2000.
On Oct. 12, 2001, a fisherman found Pratt”s body in the wildlife area near Vance Drive and Larkin Road with a fatal gunshot wound to the head.
Police arrested Markle in July 2013 after reportedly finding new evidence, including new witness interviews and a non-exclusionary DNA match.
Outside the presence of jurors Monday, attorneys argued about having witnesses testify about Markle”s possible involvement in the killing of 14-year-old DeAnna Lynn Johnson, of Vacaville, in 1982.
Deputy district attorney Elizabeth Norton said a witness heard Markle say that he killed two women.
Defense attorney David Nelson objected about having the information introduced because Markle has neither been charged nor convicted for Johnson”s death. Presenting that information could unfairly prejudice the jury, he said.
Judge James Reilley said he was concerned about the possible prejudice.
He said there should be an evidentiary hearing on whether the witnesses should testify. If the witnesses” testimony is allowed, the judge said attorneys could craft questions to solicit information pertaining to Pratt”s death while omitting references to Johnson”s death.
The judge didn”t rule on a motion pertaining to the defense raising the possibility that another person killed Pratt.
Nelson said there was evidence that other people had a motive to kill Pratt and didn”t have an alibi when she was killed.
Norton said the defense”s possible evidence of one party being the killer was solely speculative. She said it was based on one witness telling a defense investigator about hearing that a third person may have killed Pratt.
The prosecutor said the defense may also suggest a third man may have killed Pratt. Norton said that person was questioned seven times with no link between him and the shooting.
Nelson pointed out that the man gave inconsistent statements to police.
Jury selection will resume Thursday.
Markle remains in Butte County Jail.
Reach reporter Ryan Olson at facebook.com/NorCalJustice and 896-7763.