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Debra Jane Rodgers with her daughter, Christine, 5, in 1983. (Submitted)

 

(New Bloomfield) — A midstate man has been acquitted in the murder of his wife, whose body was found in a central Pennsylvania forest more than three decades ago.

A Perry County jury deliberated for about 4.5 hours Tuesday before acquitting 63-year-old Carl Rodgers of first- and third-degree murder.

Prosecutors alleged that the Shermans Dale resident beat Debra Rodgers to death, then slashed her wrists to make it appear she killed herself. Her body was found in April 1983 in a wooded area on the edge of the Tuscarora State Forest.

A coroner testified  she was killed by a “very powerful impact” that fractured her skull. But defense attorney Geoffrey McInroy argued that tried to take her own life and died after she fell onto rocks on the forest floor.