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Murder trial likely for Alabama man in slaying of Petaluma trucker

An Alabama judge ruled Thursday there was probable cause to send a Texas man to trial for the suspected murder of a Petaluma trucker 12 years ago.

DNA extracted from blood stains found in the cab of Bob Nelson's truck linked ex-convict Gary Lee Poisel to Nelson's slaying, Macon County District Judge Aubrey Ford said.

The case will go to a criminal grand jury scheduled to be in session in August, Ford said.

The 18-member panel will be called to make the same findings — that there is probable cause that a crime was committed and that Poisel likely committed that crime. The case could go to a trial in October, Ford said.

Nelson, 59, was found dead July 2, 1999, dumped off the side of Highway 85 in a rural area about 20 miles outside Montgomery, Ala. He'd been stabbed multiple times, authorities said.

His abandoned truck cab was found about 300 miles away at a north Georgia truck stop. The cab was unlocked and the keys were in the ignition. Nelson's wallet and a television were missing.

The trailer with a rotting load of frozen chicken parts was later found at another truck stop about 15 miles away.

The case went unsolved until last March, when authorities discovered that DNA in blood from Nelson's cab matched Poisel, 39, a career criminal who has spent most of the time since Nelson's death in the Texas state penitentiary.

His lengthy criminal record includes causing injury to a child. He served three years in prison for the crime beginning two months after Nelson's death, according to state prison records.

Poisel served about eight years more for possession of a controlled substance before his parole Jan. 4 of this year.

Poisel could serve life in prison in Alabama if convicted of murder and robbery.


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