SHELBY, N.C. -- The jury has reached a verdict in the Cleveland County murder trial of Donald Borders. Borders, 54, is accused of raping and killing Margaret Tessneer, 79, in September of 2003.
The jury has found Borders guilty on all three counts against him: first degree murder, first degree rape and felony breaking and entering.
Attorney David Teddy unsuccessfully filed a last minute motion earlier this month to try to convince Superior Court Judge Richard Boner to allow for a change of venue.
An autopsy showed Tessneer was badly bruised on her chest, abdomen, upper arms, legs and feet. Officials said the number and color of the bruises indicated a struggle, but they couldn’t determine a cause of death.
Borders, of Cherryville, has been linked to the mysterious deaths of two other elderly women around the same time of Tessneer's death. The Cleveland County Medical examiner, however, did not rule the 2003 deaths of 85-year-old Lottie Mae Ledford nor 87-year-old Lillian Mullinax as a homicide.
All three were found dead in their beds, with doors unlocked and phone lines cut or yanked out.
Prosecutors finished their closing arguments around 10:30 a.m.
A DNA analyst with the State Bureau of Investigation lab testified on Thursday about creating a DNA sample from a cigarette butt obtained from Borders.
Karen Winningham said she compared the sample to a DNA profile generated from a semen sample in the 2004 case in 2004. The two matched, she said. The cigarette butt was collected from Borders in May 2009 when a Gaston County Police officer went to serve a warrant on Borders for assault on a female.
The Charlotte Observer contributed to this report.