HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) – An Oregon jury has convicted a St. Helens man in a 32-year-old murder that had gone unsolved until modern DNA testing linked him to the case.
The Oregonian reports the Washington County jury deliberated more than five hours before finding 52-year-old Kenneth Lee Hicks guilty Thursday of aggravated felony murder in the 1982 rape and murder of 17-year-old Lori Gale Billingsley.
He faces a sentence of 20 years, with the possibility of parole after 15 years. Sentencing was set for July 13.
Detectives identified Hicks as a potential suspect soon after the killing but lacked sufficient evidence to arrest him.
The newspaper says a retired Washington County sheriff’s detective who returned to work part time on unsolved cases sent long-stored evidence to a lab for testing. With a DNA profile in hand, deputies obtained a search warrant, and determined that Hicks’ DNA matched sperm taken from Billingsley’s body. He was arrested in July 2013.
The defense argued the case was full of unanswered questions and reasonable doubt.