Man accused of murdering Navy recruit in 1984 takes stand in trial

A man charged in the 1984 murder of a 25-year-old Navy recruit took the stand on Wednesday.

Thomas Garner, 61, donned a face shield as attorneys for both the prosecution and the defense questioned him about his sex life when he lived in Orlando around the time of the murder of Pamela Cahanes. Garner and Cahanes were classmates at the Orlando Naval Training Center.

"To be perfectly honest with you, I was pretty promiscuous at that particular point in time, because of the atmosphere and the environment that was on that particular base at that particular time," he said.

RELATED: Arrest made in 1984 cold case murder of Orlando Navy recruit

Garner is accused of killing Cahanes two days after she graduated from basic training.  Investigators said a passerby found her body next to an empty house in Sanford on August 5, 1984.  Detectives determined that Cahanes had been beaten and strangled.

When asked about his sex life as it pertained to the victim, Garner replied, "If I had casual sex with Miss Cahanas, I probably wouldn't remember, being that long [ago], because it was nothing of a relationship."

RELATED: Victim's family reacts to arrest in 1984 cold case

Authorities made an arrest in the cold case in 2019. Deputies said Garner was living in a 600-square-foot apartment, working as a dental hygienist in Jacksonville, Florida, and maintaining a normal life at the time of his arrest.

Detectives said Garner’s DNA was found on the victim's underwear and fingernails and that advancements in technology allowed the cold case to progress years later. Garner claims he is not guilty. 

Court resumes on Thursday.

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