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Daughter of slain couple testifies

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GREAT FALLS (AP) -- A daughter of Jim and Lois Arrotta testified Friday she saw a man matching the description of defendant Alan Reavley in her house the night her parents were murdered nearly 40 years ago.

She said she couldn't distinguish the facial features of the man, but he was more than 6 feet tall and had short blond hair.

''You cannot tell me that the face in your doorway was Alan Reavley's?" defense lawyer Channing Hartelius asked.

''Based on the face? No. Based on the build? Yes," Terry Arrotta Carey testified.

Hartelius was surprised by the testimony and asked for a mistrial, saying he was blindsided. Cascade County Attorney Brant Light said he was equally surprised by the testimony. District Judge Thomas McKittrick agreed to continue the nonjury trial.

McKittrick asked Carey, who was 12 at the time of the murders, how she determined the man looked like Reavley. She replied that in 2002 she asked police to send her a photo of the young Reavley.

Hartelius challenged Carey as to why she hadn't said she suspected Reavley had been in the house until Friday's testimony.

''You didn't show me a picture and ask the question," Carey answered.

Carey, 12 years old at the time her parents were killed, said she woke up around 1 a.m. and saw a strange man step in to her room to close her bedroom door.

Days earlier, Carey said she saw a suspicious man walking in front of her house.

''I'm saying the person that was going up and down the sidewalk that night and the man in my bedroom was one and the same," she testified.

The Arrottas were killed on Sept. 4, 1964, at the grocery story Jim Arrotta managed. Reavley worked at the store but was fired for suspected theft.

Earlier Friday, the defense was allowed to call a witness who was going to be out of town next week.

Ralph Rondono, the deputy county attorney who handled the Arrotta murders, testified that Reavley was cleared as a suspect about six weeks after the murder because of a lack of evidence against him.

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