Bay City News—A 63-year-old man pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he sexually assaulted and murdered a 13-year-old Sequoia Elementary School student 38 years ago.
The killing of Julie McElhiney of Oakland on Aug. 9, 1974, had gone unsolved for nearly four decades, but DNA evidence finally gave Alameda County prosecutors enough evidence to file charges against Curtis Tucker last month, according to the district attorney's office.
In addition to murder, Tucker is charged with the special-circumstance allegations of committing a murder while carrying out lewd or lascivious acts on a child and committing a murder during a robbery.
Tucker, who wears glasses and has gray hair and a gray beard, is scheduled to return to court on May 21 for a pretrial hearing.
Tucker smiled during his brief hearing and wanted to ask a question of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carrie Panetta, saying, "Excuse me, your honor."
But his attorney, Susan Walsh, told him not to address the court but instead to whisper his question to her. Walsh then told Panetta that Tucker has concerns about getting his medication while he's in jail and said she would file a request to make sure he gets all his medication.
Oakland police Sgt. Michael Weisenberg said in a probable cause statement filed in court that McElhiney, who was a sixth grader at Sequoia, was found at about 5:40 p.m. the day of her murder face down on the second floor of her family's apartment at 3022 Pleitner Ave. She was transported to Highland Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Weisenberg said an autopsy indicated that McElhiney had been murdered, and the primary cause of her death was determined to be blunt force trauma to her head. The coroner also documented that there was an injury to the girl's vaginal area, Weisenberg said.
The Oakland Police Department's criminalistics team processed the clothing that McElhiney was wearing at the time of her death for biological evidence, and Tucker's DNA was found, according to Weisenberg.
He said Tucker has previous arrests and convictions for sexual assault and burglary.
In addition to the murder charge and the two special circumstances, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office charged Tucker with having a prior conviction in 1972 for second-degree commercial burglary. His prior conviction could increase his sentence if he is found guilty of the murder.
Tucker was arrested on March 12 at a Veterans Administration outpatient clinic at 2221 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland.
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