A man accused of strangling 13 women and girls is going on trial beginning Monday.
Prosecutors agreed in January not to seek the death penalty, as long as Gilyard's attorneys agreed to a trial before a judge without a jury. His attorneys also agreed to give up nearly all of their client's appeal rights.
He will be tried on seven of the 13 murder cases. The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, will revolve largely around DNA evidence - without which the homicides might have continued to languish without a suspect.
If Gilyard is convicted on even one of the first-degree murder counts, his only possible sentence would be life without parole, the AP reports.
In telephone conversations between Gilyard and relatives, the suspect consistently contends that he is innocent and eager to go to trial.
"I know I couldn't get convicted of something I didn't do," Gilyard told a relative in one call, which was among more than 200 minutes of recordings that The Kansas City Star recently obtained through a Missouri Sunshine Law request.
Gilyard rarely discussed details of his case, but in one conversation he discussed the DNA evidence that prosecutors say linked him to the victims. He told to a friend that his trial would come down to "their scientists against my scientists."
Gilyard had a long history of scrapes with law and has served time for crimes including child molestation. State probation records show that from January 1969 to June 1974, he was suspect in five rape cases, though he was never convicted of the crime.
He was arrested in April 2004. He worked as a supervisor for a trash-collection company and was married, but his wife divorced him after his arrest.
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