JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man charged in the 1984 rape and killing of a 10-year-old girl pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday morning.
James Jackson, 60, was arrested last month in the killing of Tammy Welch.
Jackson's next pretrial hearing is March 22. The judge set a tentative trial date of July 8.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office last month announced the arrest of Jackson in the 28-year-old cold case: the slaying of Welch at a Westside Jacksonville apartment complex in August 1984.
Police said modern DNA analysis led to the arrest of Jackson -- who was a next-door neighbor of Welch at the time -- on a charge of murder.
ARCHIVE VIDEO: Girl killed August 27, 1984
An autopsy at the time found the girl was sexually assaulted and strangled, and despite extensive investigation at the time, the case remained unsolved.
Cold case units of the JSO and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service reopened the case in August 1999, re-interviewed everyone involved and took voluntary DNA samples.
While that investigation did not produced a suspect at the time, analysis of the DNA conducted late last year came up with a partial DNA profile matched that of Jackson.
Jackson was arrested in Jacksonville by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement investigators on a drug charge, and he was charged Tuesday with murder.
Thirty minutes after Jackson, was arrested, NCIS informed the family, who now lives in Virginia. The father, who is now retired from the Navy, said they had always held out hope their daughter's killer would be caught.
State Attorney Angela Corey, who said she was a prosecutor at the time, said a federal grant enables investigators the resources to retest decades old DNA.
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