Fresno Jury Finds Eddie Ricky Nealy Guilty Of 1985 Rape And Murder Of Teen
After a three week trial and following seven hours of deliberation, a Fresno jury has convicted Eddie Ricky Nealy of raping and murdering 14-year-old Lynn Wolfe in 1985. 16 jurors were selected to hear evidence in the case, with four being excused when the final jury was selected to deliberate. The same jury will return to the same Fresno County courtroom next week to determine whether Nealy, 56, should receive the death penalty or be sentenced to life in prison.
As detailed in our recent post on the Nealy death penalty trial, Wolfe was discovered floating naked in a canal in southwest Fresno in 1985, her skull fractured and police believing she had been raped. Although investigators at the time took hair samples and mouth and genital swabs, the case went cold after no leads pointed to a suspect. Sixteen years later, in 2001, the hair samples and swabs were sent to the California Department of Justice for DNA testing, with one of the test results from a swab returning a genetic profile matching that of Nealy.
During trial, Nealy’s defense attorneys spoke openly to the jury about Nealy’s prior rape convictions, but at the same time contended that Nealy, who was 28 when Wolfe’s death occurred, did not rape Wolfe and that any sex between them was consensual. It was also revealed at trial that Wolfe was a runaway known for drinking, smoking, and seeking the company of older men.
Nealy’s attorneys expressed surprise at the guilty verdict, saying that “there was no physical evidence" linking Nealy to the rape or killing of Wolfe. At trial, Nealy’s attorneys stressed that there were no marks or bruises on Wolfe’s body, there was no evidence of a sexual assault, no murder weapon was found, and no blood was found on or near Wolfe’s clothing or on the bank of the canal.