Gary Billy Bivens pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and aggravated assault in the January 1981 death of Martha Winters during a burglary at her home in Phoenix.
PHOENIX (AP/CBS5) -
An Arizona man convicted in the beating death of a 93-year-old woman was sentenced to the maximum 55 years in prison in a case that went unsolved for nearly 30 years until investigators revisited DNA evidence from the crime scene.
Gary Billy Bivens pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and aggravated assault in the January 1981 death of Martha Winters and an attack on her sister-in-law during a burglary at the women's Phoenix home.
The 92-year-old sister-in-law, Jesse Winters, was beaten but survived the Jan. 31 attack.
An intruder entered their home and demanded money from Jesse Winters, who was hearing impaired and unable to understand him. He then wrote a note demanding money and threatening to kill her, but when she refused to cooperate he beat her until she was unconscious, prosecutor said.
When she regained consciousness, Jesse Winters found her sister-in-law severely beaten and lying on the living room floor. Their home had been ransacked and a gun was later found missing from the residence.
Martha Winters died from her injuries a few days later. Police identified several possible suspects but were unable to link any of them to the crime. With no additional leads, the investigation went cold.
Authorities say the case was solved after investigators re-examined it and matched DNA found on a comb outside the Winters' home with DNA from Bivens.
Bivens wasn't a suspect until 2010 but had submitted a DNA sample to a national database after he was arrested on armed robbery charges.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation) contributed to this report.
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