The Fresno Bee
November 21, 2013
Eddie Ricky Nealy learned Monday morning that his death sentence for the 1985 rape and killing Fresno teen Jody Lynn Wolfe will wait until after his trial for the alleged rape of a woman in 2001.
Nealy’s lawyers, Eric Green and Serita Rios, were hoping that prosecutor Steve Wright would dismiss the rape allegation in Fresno County Superior Court since a conviction would not affect Nealy’s death sentence, which had been scheduled to be pronounced Monday.
But Wright told Judge Arlan Harrell he plans to move forward with the rape case.
Harrell scheduled a Feb. 10 trial.
Outside court, Green said it was “utterly ridiculous” and “a waste of taxpayers’ money” for Wright to pursue the rape case.
But Wright said the alleged rape victim — like Jody — deserves justice, too.
In September, a jury of eight women and four men voted unanimously to give Nealy a death sentence after convicting him of rape and first-degree murder in the slaying of 14-year-old Jody, whose nude body was discovered floating in a southwest Fresno canal on Aug. 15, 1985.
An autopsy revealed she died of blunt-force trauma to the back of her head and had been dead at least two days.
The 2001 alleged rape victim is known as Martha H. in court papers. She testified at Nealy’s death penalty trial that he grabbed her as she left a party near Riverdale in southern Fresno County during the early hours of Sept. 20, 2001.
She testified Nealy dragged her to a nearby field and raped her at knifepoint behind a haystack. She said she then escaped and reported the incident to authorities.
Nealy escaped punishment at the time by leaving the area, authorities said. He was finally arrested in 2004 by law enforcement authorities in Los Angeles on drug possession and was sentenced to prison. While in prison, Nealy was linked to Jody’s rape and slaying through DNA evidence.
Nealy’s criminal history stretches back more than three decades. It includes arrests for corporal punishment of a child, robbery and grand theft in the 1980s.
He also was linked to the murder and sodomy of Mary Charlotte Barnett, 28, whose nude body was found in a field in southwest Fresno on July 20, 1988, according to court records.
Nealy was charged with Barnett’s murder in August 1991 while he was in Soledad prison serving a 16-year sentence for rape and sodomy, court records show. But he has never been convicted of the killing. The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the murder case in October 1992 after witnesses back then declined to testify, court documents show.