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Trial begins in 1988 murder case

NOW: Trial begins in 1988 murder case

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The trial began today for a woman accused of murdering a pregnant mother in 1988.

Miriam Rice was 28-years-old and four and a half months pregnant when she never returned home after going out to walk her dog in South Bend.

Barbara Brewster is accused of helping kill Rice and dispose of her body.

Opening statements from the state and defense were quick. The state claimed that Barbara had a role in Miriam’s murder. The defense called the evidence in the case senseless and hard to absorb, but said the jury would find out “who did what to who and why.”

The jury heard from five of the state’s witnesses. Testimony was focused primarily on the five day search and discovery of Miriam’s body.

The first and most moving witness on the stand was Miriam’s husband at the time of the murder.

It’s the first time Jeff Rice has set foot in South Bend since he left for Ohio in 1992. His emotions were clearly visible as his voice shook and tears fell during the state’s questioning.

Rice reflected on lingering details of his former wife -- details down to the shoes and socks she was wearing the night she disappeared. He remembered she was wearing white shoes and socks because he put them on her feet before she left to walk their dog, max.

The four other witnesses who testified were officers who worked on the south bend police department back in ’88, including the officer who took the missing person’s report.

Testimony ended with the facts surrounding the discovery of Miriam’s body. She was found down an embankment on Boland Drive near the lagoon of Pinhook Park in South Bend. She was missing clothing, and the only thing identifiable was her wedding and engagement rings.

In court Monday, the defendant Barbara Brewster, seemed calm. She was wearing a floral tank top dress with a black t-shirt underneath.

If convicted - she faces up to 60 years behind bars.

George Kearney died at the St. Joseph County Jail, a judge accepted his guilty plea in the 1988 murder of Miriam Rice in March.

The jury will meet again at 9:15 Tuesday morning.

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