OAKLAND -- A trial begins Monday for a 66-year-old man accused in the fatal beating and sexual assault of a 13-year-old East Oakland girl nearly 40 years ago.

Julie McElhiney was a sixth-grader when her mother found her beaten to death in the bathroom of their apartment in the 3000 block of Pleitner Avenue on Aug. 9, 1974. Oakland police said the case went unsolved until DNA testing linked semen left on the child's T-shirt to Curtis Tucker, an Army veteran and ex-convict unknown to the girl's family.

Tucker has been held without bail at Santa Rita Jail since he was arrested at an Oakland Veterans Affairs clinic in March 2012. He was charged with murder and a special circumstance enhancement that alleges the killing occurred in the course of a burglary and lewd and lascivious acts on a child.

Tucker's criminal record dates back to the early 1970s and includes a conviction for a burglary in which he posed as a delivery man, broke into a downtown Oakland apartment and tried to sexually assault a female resident. Authorities said the woman was saved when her roommate struck Tucker in the head with a lamp.

Tucker's DNA sample was in a national database due to his arrest on suspicion of raping an 18-year-old woman in Spokane, Washington, in 1978.

It is unclear whether the arrest resulted in a conviction for Tucker.

Attorneys are giving opening statements at Tucker's trial Monday morning in the court of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman.

Staff writer Harry Harris contributed to this report.