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The Associated Press

FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) — DNA tests point to a prison inmate in the 1972 rape-murder of Roylene Alexander, according to prosecutors, who nevertheless are not certain whether they will file charges.

The 17-year-old girl’s body was found in brush near the Weber River in June 1972.

Robert Lee Sales, who has spent nearly all of his adult life behind bars, has long been the suspect. Sales is now serving five years to life for an Ogden rape-murder a year before Alexander’s.

DNA tests completed this spring are “very strong in our favor, very conclusive,” Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson said. “Way beyond what would be considered beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Despite that, he said, there are problems with the case because of its age.

In the early 1970s a “different statutory construction” was in place, especially concerning the death penalty, he said. A short-term death penalty moratorium that ended in 1977 may complicate that, Wilson said.

There also may be some problems with 29-year-old witness statements and crime scene procedures, he said.

Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Fielding is frustrated with the slow going.

“We’ve had a lot of meetings with the prosecutors, trying to answer all their questions,” he said. “I wish we could get it resolved.”

Alexander’s family members “absolutely want a resolution to the case,” he said. “Whether he’s inside the prison or not doesn’t affect the fact he needs to answer for the crime.”

Wilson said that having Sales in prison accounts for some of the slow going on the case.

“I don’t think there’s been any big rush to file charges, partly for that reason. But if he gets a release date, we’ll have to step it up a bit.”

Sales recently had a parole hearing. The state Board of Pardons announced that it had reached a decision Wednesday but will not release it until Sales has been notified and by Aug. 3 at the latest, said board spokesman John Green.

“Without saying what the board’s decision was, I’ll just say this: It doesn’t look like they’ll give him a release date,” Green said.

Sales, now 58, was convicted in 1974 of the rape and murder in Ogden of Joann Poulsen, 19, of Corinne.

Sales was convicted shortly after he began serving what became a 23-year prison term in Montana for the 1971 kidnapping, rape and attempted murder of a woman in the Great Falls area.

By 1995, Montana turned him over to Utah officials to begin serving his time in Poulsen’s case.

Poulsen was last was seen on Aug. 21, 1971, after leaving a party. Her body was found 13 months later in the trunk of her car when it was pulled from Pineview Reservoir. It was Sales who told police where to find her, hoping to collect a $1,000 reward for information on her whereabouts. Sales claimed that another man had told him the details.

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