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Cold case linked after DWI is set for murder trial

PERU, Ind. – A judge has rejected an agreement with prosecutors under which a Mississippi man was going to plead guilty to killing a northern Indiana woman more than 20 years ago.

Timothy Jimerson, 54, of D’Iberville, Miss., faced a 30-year sentence if the judge had accepted the deal that called for him to plead guilty to a voluntary manslaughter charge in the 1992 strangulation death of 27-year-old Toni Spicer in her mobile home just north of the Miami-Howard county line, the Kokomo Tribune reported ( ).

County Prosecutor Bruce Embrey argued during a Thursday court hearing that the judge should accept the plea agreement.

“I’d like a 65-year sentence on a murder conviction, but we risk not getting any conviction at all,” Embrey said.

Jimerson lived across the street from Spicer’s home at the time of her death and was arrested in 2012 after he was linked to the killing through DNA testing done after he was convicted in 2010 of a felony drunken-driving charge in Mississippi, according to authorities.

Jeremy Spicer, who was 7 when his mother was killed, testified against the plea agreement and described finding her naked body tied to her bed.

“I’m sure while you were free for the last 20 years, you forgot some of those details,” Spicer said to Jimerson, who sat expressionless, looking directly at Spicer.

Defense attorney Kristina Lynn said evidence would be presented at trial “which the court hasn’t heard about, and which the family hasn’t heard.”

Embrey said he had concerns about trying to seek a murder conviction.

“We’re going to go to trial and risk not getting a conviction so we can add five or 10 years on his sentence?” he asked.

Miami Circuit Court Judge Tim Spahr turned to the more than a dozen Spicer family members in the courtroom and asked them whether they’d be willing to go through a trial. They all nodded yes.

Spahr said he believed the attack merited a longer prison sentence.

“This court, if it’s going to accept a plea, has to feel it’s justified,” he said.

After the judge’s announced his decision, Lynn asked for a trial date to be set and told Spahr she intended to file motions to suppress evidence.

The defense could seek to throw out Jimerson’s confession to police during questioning in 2012.

Embrey called it a “confession of sorts” and said he wasn’t sure what use he could make of it at trial, which the judge scheduled for August.