A prison inmate has been ordered to appear in 3rd District Court on charges he killed an elderly Salt Lake woman in her home last August.

In a preliminary hearing, 3rd Circuit Judge Michael Hutchings ruled there is sufficient probable cause to believe that Daniel R. Troyer killed Ethel Luckau, 88, who was asphyxiated in her home, 357 E. 17th South on Aug. 17.Hutchings ordered Troyer, 29, to appear May 15 before 3rd District Judge John Rokich to answer to charges of first-degree murder, burglary and being a habitual criminal.

During the preliminary hearing, laboratory experts testified that blood, semen and hairs found at the murder scene are similar to samples taken from Troyer.

Troyer's sister testified that he called her from the Bonneville Halfway House, where he was finishing a prison term for a 1985 burglary, and asked her to give him an alibi for the morning of Aug. 17.

During that time, Troyer had been released from the halfway house to find work. He told detectives different stories about his whereabouts on that day. One of his stories, however, put him within a block of the homicide.

Also during that time, one of Luckau's neighbors observed her working in her yard. A furnace repairman, however, could get no answer at her door about 1:30 p.m.

Police, who investigated Troyer in connection with the 1985 slaying of another elderly woman, questioned Troyer, a convicted rapist, on Aug. 19.

Four days later, Troyer escaped from the halfway house. He was arrested in Seattle in October.

A fellow inmate at the halfway house testified that Troyer told him on Aug. 17 that he had been at a burglary, during which he had possibly hurt someone.

But defense attorney James Valdez sought to discredit the inmate and argued Thursday that prosecutors do not have any direct evidence that Troyer was the killer.

"This case is based on suspicion and confusion," Valdez said.