ISANTI, Minn. (FOX 9) - Jury selection was underway on Monday as an Isanti hockey dad and businessman faces trial for a 1993 cold case murder in Minneapolis. A pool of 50 prospective jurors arrived at the Hennepin County courthouse to fill out pre-trial questionnaires. The lawyers will use those answers during voir dire that is scheduled to be Tuesday.
Jerry Westrom is charged with first-degree murder in the 1993 slaying of Jeanne Childs, who was stabbed to death inside an upper-floor apartment of Horn Towers along Pillsbury Avenue in South Minneapolis.
Prosecutors say footprints and DNA evidence place Westrom at the scene of the murder. But, Westrom's legal team insists he did not commit the heinous crime. Meantime, prosecutors say DNA evidence doesn't lie.
"So it's a brutal crime," said Westrom's defense attorney Steve Meshbesher. "I mean, there's no question it's a first-degree murder. They just have the wrong person."
Jeanne Childs was found stabbed to death at a bloody crime scene inside an apartment at Horn Towers off Pillsbury Avenue in south Minneapolis.
Veteran criminal defense attorney Steve Meshbesher left the courthouse Monday with client Jerry Westrom and Westrom’s wife. Before facing charges in the nearly 30-year-old cold case, Westrom had been living an unassuming life in Isanti where he is a businessman, hockey dad, and husband.
Westrom was indicted by a grand jury on the murder charges nearly 25 years after the murder.
"The DNA shows that only he and the victim are found in the blood samples," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at the time his office issued charges in February, 2019.
Minneapolis police cold case investigators used genealogy databases to connect the dots to Westrom just a few years ago, including pulling the now 56 year old’s DNA off a napkin he reportedly wiped his mouth with at a hockey game while he was under surveillance.
Jerry Westrom faces trial in the 1993 cold case murder of Jeanne Childs. (FOX 9)
But Meshbesher is arguing several others could be responsible for slaying Childs, who was a known prostitute at the time.
He argues there’s plenty of blood and DNA evidence at the scene pointing to someone other than Westrom as the killer.
"She was found murdered in somebody’s apartment who is a well-known pimp, promotes sex, sex slaves for money," argues Meshbesher. "His hair was in her hands. The apartment was rented by him. They forgot to bring that out."
The trial is expected to last a couple of weeks.