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Jury Selection Starts for Man Accused of Strangling Neighbor

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Jury selection starts Tuesday for a Cedar Rapids man accused of strangling to death his elderly neighbor in 2010.

After several continuances and motions filed, Jerome Power, 50, will be tried for first-degree murder in Linn County District Court. He is accused of killing Doris Bevins, 68, following an altercation in her home.

The trial is expected to go into next week but should wrap up before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Bevins was found by police in her home unconscious on the floor with flannel pants wrapped around her neck Sept. 19, 2010, according to police reports. Bevins died the next day. According to a medical examiner's report, she died from asphyxiation by strangulation.

Power, who lived in the same apartment building, was found hiding inside behind the entry door when police smashed a window to enter the locked apartment, according to a search warrant. Police also recovered a Social Security card belonging to Power in the residence.

A friend of Bevins' called 911 when he heard Bevins scream, according to a search warrant. The friend said he was talking on the phone to Bevins when there was a knock on her door and she put down the phone to answer it. The man then heard Bevins scream.

Investigators haven't released details of what they believed happened inside Bevins' apartment that night. According to early reports, police said there was an altercation between Bevins and Power.

Bevins was disabled and lived alone with pet parakeet "Petey," friends told The Gazette after her death. Three people said there was friction between Bevins and Power and his girlfriend Mary Meier. Bevins had complained about the couple being too loud.

Meier admitted to a Gazette reporter that she and Power's relationship with Bevins had been rocky but said Power wouldn't hurt anyone.

Power told The Gazette in a jailhouse interview he was innocent and claimed he saw a black man coming around the corner, as if leaving Bevins' apartment that night, who may be the real killer. Power said the unknown man was wearing a Chicago Bulls cap and a black jacket. He said the man was walking fast and had his head down.

Power said as he got closer to Bevins' door he found a cell phone on the ground and thought it could belong to the unknown man. He then went to Bevins' door and found it cracked open a few inches. He knocked a few times and when she didn't answer he walked in to find the TV on "real loud." He then saw her lying face up on the floor and her face was "all bloody." He said there were also flannel pants wrapped around her neck.

Power sent two pages of a DNA examination conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to The Gazette, which stated no blood was found on or under Power's fingernails.

A DCI spokesperson said it wasn't a complete report and couldn't verify if the report was authentic.

Power has a lengthy criminal record including first-degree robbery and burglary, according to courts online.

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