The former fiance of a Magna woman slain 11 years ago has been bound over for trial in her murder.

After hearing evidence at a preliminary hearing Thursday, 3rd District Judge William Barrett bound Billy Justin Charles, 31, over for trial on first-degree felony murder. Charles then entered a plea of not guilty to the charge.

Prosecutors say that on Aug. 7, 1996 — the day before the couple was to be married — 18-year-old Jamie Weiss was found by Charles' sister submerged naked in a bathtub in the couple's trailer.

Police were called out to the home on a report of a drowning. An autopsy later showed Weiss died as a result of blunt-force trauma and asphyxiation. The death was ruled a homicide.

The autopsy report also concluded that Weiss' death had occurred prior to the time she was in the bath tub.

Charles claims Weiss had been alive that morning because she had helped him start his truck so he could go to work. The truck had some gear problems that Charles claimed required two people to start it. However, prosecutors say a neighbor saw Charles outside that morning alone.

In tearful testimony Thursday, Charles' sister, Lisa, recounted finding Weiss' body in an overflowing bathtub and pulling her out.

Lisa Charles also testified that the couple had separated for a time and that Weiss had gone to live in Oregon before she came back and the couple decided to get married. Lisa Charles also testified that she was told that Weiss recently had taken a home pregnancy test, and that it had turned positive. The couple had a 2-year-old child together.

After the body was discovered, Billy Charles told police that an unidentified person may have entered the trailer and suffocated his fiance. Prosecutors said Charles also gave conflicting statements about Weiss helping him with his truck that morning.

Defense attorneys argued that there was no evidence linking Charles to the murder, and that DNA tests did not come back with any of their client's DNA on the victim's body.

The case went unsolved for several years. In 2007, Charles was charged with murder after a witness came forward saying Charles had confessed to her that he had killed Weiss.

Defense attorneys called the state's evidence weak, saying one person's testimony over a decade after the death, with no physical evidence, was not enough to try him for murder.

A hearing has been scheduled for April 18 to set a trial date. The court has ruled Charles will remain in jail pending trial.


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