SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) - Willie Roy Jenkins, 59, of California, was sentenced to death Thursday in San Marcos for a murder than dates back nearly 38 years, when 20-year-old Sheryl Norris was sexually assaulted and murdered in her apartment.
Jenkins was indicted in November 2010 for the murder after DNA evidence linked him to the case.
Norris, from Florida, was strangled and drowned in her apartment on Nov. 24, 1975. She worked at the Texas Crime Prevention Institute at then-Southwest Texas State University, now known as Texas State University.
After trying once before, investigators resubmitted DNA evidence nearly 22 years later for new analysis, which turned up only a partial DNA profile of an unknown contributor. Authorities found it insufficient for search through the state and national Combined DNA Index System, also known as CODIS.
Some 13 years after that unsuccessful try, investigators again requested new analysis on April 2010 - this time testing specifically a certain evidence item. There was a "hit" in the CODIS database just four months later, indicating a match with an offender already in the system, Jenkins.
Though San Marcos police and the Texas Rangers conducted the original investigation, several San Marcos police officers continued the investigation in recent years.
"The San Marcos Police Department never gave up in their investigation of this case," said San Marcos Police Department Chief Howard Williams. "Recent advances in DNA technology led us to this suspect and his subsequent indictment and arrest."
Authorities traveled to Coalinga, Calif. , to interview the capital murder suspect and to get a saliva sample from Jenkins for direct comparison to the evidentiary DNA - evidence officials said places Jenkins at the scene of the murder and in the body of the victim.
On Sept. 15, 2010, forensic analysis experts said Jenkins "cannot be excluded as a contributor to the profile."
In addition to the DNA evidence, authorities verified Jenkins was in Central Texas at the time of Norris' aggravated sexual assault and murder.
Family and friends held a vigil Wednesday at the State Capitol in hopes that a Bastrop man can win a new trial.
An unusually cold blast of arctic air arriving early Thursday will be followed by an increasing chance of freezing drizzle/rain and sleet by Friday morning.
The HealthCare.gov website is working more smoothly for central Texans.
City leaders in West Lake Hills discussed the ongoing concern with the city's water system Wednesday night. The problems arise when water is needed most; fighting fires.
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Former Georgetown Police Officer Stephanie Brown said her ex-boyfriend, former Round Rock Officer Eric Poteet, made up accusations against her after she broke up with him.