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Trial Begins For Man Accused In 14-Year-Old Murder Case

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The proceedings are underway in the murder trial of John Minch.

Minch is accused of killing his ex-wife Melissa Groot in a bathtub inside of her home in 1999.

In court today, the jury saw pictures of the murder weapon: a knife found in the sink of Groot's bathroom in Bethel Park not far from the bathtub in which she was found stabbed to death back in 1999.

They saw bank surveillance pictures taken back then of a truck similar to the truck Minch drove not far from a pay phone from which the victim received a hang up call the morning of the murder.

But the piece of evidence the prosecution says ties Minch to the homicide is his hair found, say prosecutors, in Groot's bloody hand.

She was killed on the same day a hearing was scheduled during a contentious divorce involving her ex-husband, Minch.

But the hair was stored for years and wasn't checked against his DNA until 2008. He was charged in 2009.

In opening statements, prosecutor Lisa Pellegrini said, "The defendant hated Melissa because she went off with another man. Lo and behold, the hair matched his DNA. That hair shouldn't have been in the house. He had the motive, the means and the opportunity," said Pellegrini.

The defendant, though, explaining why his movements in the courtroom are restricted since he's still in custody told the jury, "I am not allowed to approach the jury box because I am the defendant. I don't want you to think I'm not personable.

"What they will not tell you is why they didn't look at evidence for eight years before bringing charges. By the end of the trial you will know who killed her. And you will know it was not me," said Minch.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.


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