Man will stand trial in 1971 Pacific Beach murder case

A 61-year-old man charged with murder is scheduled to go on trial Friday for a slaying in Pacific Beach nearly 38 years ago.

Gerald Dean Metcalf is charged in the December 1971 death of Pacific Beach resident Gerald Jackson, 27, who was stabbed 61 times in his apartment late on the evening of Dec. 28, 1971, or early the next morning, according to San Diego police.

Metcalf is scheduled to appear in a downtown San Diego court this morning, when his trial will begin with jury selection.

After Metcalf was ordered earlier this year to stand trial in Jackson’s death, the defendant’s defense attorney, Gary Gibson, said Metcalf told authorities Jackson had tried to rape him.

Jackson’s body was found on Jan. 2, 1972, by friends who went to check on him because he hadn’t been at work for several days. The victim worked part-time as a bouncer at a gay bar, according to court testimony.

In January 2008, evidence collected from the crime scene was re-examined by a student worker assigned to the San Diego Police Department’s Cold Case Team.

According to evidence presented at a preliminary hearing, Metcalf’s fingerprints were found on the window of the victim’s car and also on a stereo that had been stolen from his apartment.

In addition, Metcalf’s DNA was detected on a stereo speaker inside the apartment, on a stain on top of a table in the living room and on a cigarette butt in the victim’s bedroom, said Deputy District Attorney Jill Schall.

Ronald Coberly, a friend of Jackson’s who had a sexual relationship with the victim, said he and a bar owner discovered Jackson’s body. He said Jackson had people over to his apartment all the time.

Retired Calexico police Cmdr. John Hignight testified that days after Jackson’s body was discovered, the victim’s 1971 Ford Torino was found in Mexicali, Mexico.

Hignight said he contacted San Diego police homicide detectives, who asked him to check local pawn shops to see if any of Jackson’s property had been sold. Hignight said he found the victim’s stolen stereo receiver was sold by someone claiming to be Jackson.

A suspect profile was developed, but the crime went unsolved until last year, when a print taken from Metcalf after a prior arrest matched a print from the crime scene, Schall said.

The prosecutor said Metcalf was acquitted of murder in 1984 in Texas after claiming self-defense. In October 2008, he was arrested in Texas on suspicion of murdering Jackson.

The defendant is being held in the Vista jail in lieu of $1 million bail.