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Trial starts in 35-year-old murder

Johnny Wright

Johnny Wright

The murder trial of a former Lawrenceville man finally began in Missouri Wednesday, almost 35 years after the alleged slaying.

Johnny Wright, 66, has been charged with second-degree murder in the August 1976 disappearance and presumed death of 23-year-old Rebecca Doisy, a former University of Missouri student.

After initially interviewing Wright, a regular at the Columbia, Mo., steakhouse where Doisy worked, he was released because of no physical evidence to link him to the crime. Nine years later, Wright's former roommate reportedly told police he had seen Doisy's "lifeless body" in Wright's pickup truck, and that he had once admitted to the killing.

By that time, Wright was long gone.

In 2009, though, he resurfaced in Gwinnett County. Living in Lawrenceville, reportedly under a new name and with a family, Wright went to the Lawrenceville Police Department in 2009, asking for a background check for a perspective job.

The search turned up a 1985 warrant for Doisy's murder, and led to his arrest.

Wright pleaded not guilty to the charges in March of last year. He was held at Gwinnett County Jail before being extradited to St. Louis.

Because Doisy's body was never found, the prosecution now faces a case without proof that the missing woman actually died.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.