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Needles man convicted of 1982 murder of fiancee

A jury in Barstow, Calif., has convicted a Needles resident for the murder of his fiancee almost 29 years to the day that her severed hand washed ashore on the Arizona side of the Colorado River.

Jimmie Joe Cox, 72, was found guilty Monday in the December 1982 slaying of 25-year-old Carole Spearman.

A new look at the original homicide investigation by a San Bernardino County cold-case team led to Cox’s indictment in May 2010. California authorities said there was no significant new evidence discovered, but they felt confident they could earn a jury conviction based on the old case file.

The trial began in late November, and 19 hours of deliberations over the course of five days produced a second-degree murder conviction Monday.

Prosecutor John Thomas said that justice is served and that Spearman’s mother and siblings will have a little more peace this Christmas.

“I think having a verdict like this around the holidays is even extra special for them to know that the person who killed their loved one is going to spend the rest of his life in prison,” Thomas said.

Thomas said Cox will face 15 years to life in prison when sentenced Jan. 19.

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