Opening statements Tuesday in 1993 stabbing case trial

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Opening statements in the trial of an Isanti man charged with first-degree murder in a 1993 case were delivered Tuesday.

Jerry Westrom, 56, is accused of stabbing Jeanie Childs to death at a Minneapolis apartment.

As previously reported, Childs’ body was found in the bedroom of her Horn Towers, south Minneapolis apartment on June 13, 1993, after property management was alerted that water from the apartment was entering the hallway. A criminal complaint states that when supervisors entered Childs’ apartment, they found the shower running and her body on the floor.

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In 2018, Westrom was identified as the suspect by a genetic expert.

Investigators say they were able to use DNA from a napkin Westrom had tossed in the trash at a hockey game to match DNA evidence found at the crime scene.

Tuesday morning, Childs’ picture was put up for the jury to see as tears flowed from her mother, Betty Eakman, as she took the stand.

“She was a beautiful child … somewhere along the line, I lost what was going on with her,” Eakman said.

Westrom was asked about his defense as he left the courthouse during a break but replied, “you can talk to my lawyer.”

During opening statements, Hennepin County Assistant Attorney Mike Radmer told jurors that Westrom “left behind two things … bloody footprint and his DNA.”

Westrom’s attorney, Steve Meshbesher, told the jury that the state’s case rests on assumptions from a few facts and raised concerns about other DNA found in Childs’ apartment.

“At the end of the case, there will be more unanswered questions than answered questions,” Meshbesher told jurors Tuesday.

The defense also told jurors that Childs’ roommate, who has since died, was an alleged sex trafficker who had many people come through her apartment. Prosecutors countered that by having a man testify that Childs’ roommate was out of town when she was killed.

The first Minneapolis police officer at the scene also testified Tuesday, saying police didn’t find any eyewitnesses 29 years ago.

Testimony will continue Wednesday morning.

The judge overseeing the case told the jury trial could last until the middle of next week.