Trial Set For Woman Charged In Cold Case Death - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Trial Set For Woman Charged In Cold Case Death

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Christel Ann Perkins Christel Ann Perkins
Jorja L. Walter Jorja L. Walter

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (NewsChannel 5/AP) - A trial date has been set for a woman accused of killing her business partner and roommate in 1979.

The trial of 65-year-old Christel Ann Perkins has been set to begin on February 10, 2014. Perkins was arrested in 2010 after being indicted by a Middle Tennessee grand jury in the death of 30-year-old Jorja L. Walter.

The women were cousins who had grown up together in West Liberty, Kentucky. They were living in Murfreesboro and running CJ Strippers, a furniture stripping business, when the shooting occurred.

Police initially determined it was an accidental shooting. They reopened the case in 2010 after investigators found discrepancies in statements made in 1979 and physical evidence.

Lt. Bill Sharpe said he came across the case file last year. Walter died from a gun shot wound to the head at a home on Manson Pike (now Medical Center Parkway) where the two women lived, along with Perkins' 12-year-old son, just outside Murfreesboro city limits at the time.

The only witnesses to the shooting were Perkins and her son. After an investigation, Walter's death was ruled accidental.

"It became apparent that the physical evidence did not jibe with the statements that were given more than 31 years ago," said Dan Goodwin with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department.

Walter was survived by her older brother who lives in Kentucky. He told NewsChannel 5 by phone that he is happy to hear justice is being served in his sister's death. His family never believed it was an accident and he and his father, a circuit court judge in Kentucky, spent years trying to get the case re-opened. He wishes his father was still alive to see the arrest of Perkins.

Perkins has pleaded not guilty. She is scheduled to be in court on November 15.

(Copyright 2013 by NewsChannel 5/The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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