JEFFERSON, Iowa -- Court proceedings for one piece of a puzzle of family trouble began in Greene County on Tuesday.
It's a web of sex abuse allegations, arson, and murder. James Exline Jr. is accused of sexually abusing his 12-year-old daughter, Paige Exline. Paige and her 16-year-old cousin, Shakiah Cockerham, were killed in a house fire in May. Investigators believe that fire was intentionally set by James Exline's stepson, Patrick Thompson.
Prosecutors are now left to continue the sex abuse trial without being able to hear from the victim. Judge Kurt Stoebe will hear the trial, and 79 jurors were summoned in total. The judge needs 14 to begin testimony.
Selecting a jury for this type of trial is often difficult given the nature of the sexual assault allegations and the fact that minors are involved. The minors are set to testify once the hearing begins.