James Exline Jr.
James Exline Jr.

May 8, 2018

The trial of a rural Jefferson man — whose daughter was killed last year after she alleged he sexually abused her — will be held in Waverly next month, according to court records.

It will be the third attempt to hold a trial for James Hubert Exline Jr., 47, who faces two felony sex-abuse charges that are together punishable by up to 35 years in prison.

A judge decided to move his trial from Greene County in October during his first jury selection when it became clear that the vast majority of potential jurors had read or seen news reports about the allegations against Exline — he is accused of abusing his daughter for about a year when she was 11 and 12 — and the subsequent house fire that killed the girl.

The trial moved to Mason City, where on Wednesday a judge declared a mistrial when the girl’s grandmother — who owned the house that burned — testified that the girl was murdered.

That’s true, investigators of the fire allege. But a judge forbade witnesses from mentioning the fire because it might prejudice jurors against Exline.

The girl’s stepbrother, Patrick Ryan Thompson, 27, of Nevada, is accused of setting the May 2017 fire to kill the girl because of her allegations against her father and older brother, who also faces felony sex-abuse charges.

James Exline’s trial will now be held in Waverly starting on June 4. It’s expected to last for most of the week.