Minnesota man acquitted in 1991 murder in Pennsylvania

A Minnesota man has been acquitted in the murder of a 76-year-old woman almost three decades ago in western Pennsylvania.

Jurors in Indiana County last week deliberated for more than two hours before finding 67-year-old Charles Cook not guilty of criminal homicide and robbery in the slaying of Myrtle McGill.

Cook’s defense lawyer called the verdict "a big relief," the Indiana Gazette reported.

County prosecutors alleged that the suspect fired two shots through a window that killed 76-year-old McGill in the kitchen of her White Township home. Her body was found on Dec. 13, 1991, but authorities believed she died several days earlier.

Prosecutors alleged that the defendant then stole the victim’s car, which was found illegally parked in Pittsburgh near a Greyhound bus station. They cited a cigarette butt found in the car that DNA tests in 2007 linked to Cook, who was arrested nine years later.

Defense attorney Aaron Ludwig said the officer checking the butt into evidence said it appeared to have been carried into the vehicle on the bottom of someone’s shoe, and he argued that there was nothing else linking it to the car. Investigators made no direct connection between the defendant and the home or the .22-caliber weapon used.

Cook, of Magnolia, Minnesota, was arrested in 2016 at a jail in Jackson, Minnesota. He still faces trial later this month on charges of illegal use of a telephone while awaiting trial in Indiana County Jail in October 2018.