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Ronnie Joe NEAL

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 22, 2004
Date of arrest: 2 days after
Date of birth: January 18, 1971
Victim profile: Diane Allison Tilly, 58
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Bexar County, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 4, 2006
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name
TDCJ Number
Date of Birth
Neal, Ronnie 999510 01/18/1971
Date Received
Age (when Received)
Education Level
05/04/2006 35 10
Date of Offense
Age (at the Offense)
County
11/22/04 33 Bexar
Race
Gender
Hair Color
Black Male Brown
Height
Weight
Eye Color
6 ft 0 in 250 Brown
Native County
Native State
Prior Occupation
Wichita Texas welder, forklift operator and laborer
Prior Prison Record


TDCJ-ID #525256 on four ten year sentences for robbery, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and burglary of a habitation.

TDCJ-ID #833215 on two five year sentences for burglary of a habitation
 

Summary of incident


On November 22, 2004 in Bexar County, Texas, Neal and codefendant entered the private residence of the victim, a 58 year old white female, and forced her to have sexual intercourse.  Neal and his codefendant then escorted the victim to a vehicle where she was shot 5 times.
 

Co-defendants
Pearl Ann Cruz
Race and Gender of Victim
White Female
 
 
 
 
 
 
Summary of Events - Diane Allison Tilly Murder
 

 

 Summer 1998


Ronnie Joe Neal is in Rusk County jail awaiting trial on charges of forgery and burglary of a habitation.
 

 June 16, 1998


Local jailers caught Ronnie Joe Neal with a concealed weapon.
 

 July 17, 1998


Ronnie Joe Neal pleads guilty to concealed weapon charge while in Rusk County Jail.
 

 September 9, 1998


Ronnie Joe Neal is indicted on possession charges while in jail.
 

 November 17, 2000


Court of appeals dismisses charges of carrying a concealed weapon while in jail. Neal files a claim against Rusk County in a civil-rights suit and receives a judgment of $6,000. He is subsequently released from prison.
 

 November 17, 2004


Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reverses the judgment of the court of appeals and affirms the trial court's judgment. An arrest warrant is issued for Ronnie Joe Neal.
 

 November 22, 2004


During the rainy evening Diane Allison Tilly is packing for a trip to New York over the Thanksgiving holidays. She hears a knock at her door and opens it to find Pearl Cruz, an acquaintance, who asks for help stating she has car trouble. She enters Diane's house followed by Ronnie Joe Neal.
 

 November 23, 2004


Co-workers report Diane missing to the Bexar County Sheriff's Department when she doesn't show for work.
 

 November 24, 2004


Diane's car is found near Cibolo Creek in Guadeloupe County. It is totally burned. Ronnie Joe Neal (33) and pregnant daughter, Pearl Ann Cruz (15) who is suspected of bearing her own father's child, are arrested at a San Antonio motel in connection with the disappearance of Diane Tilly. Items belonging to Diane are in their possession at the time of their arrest.
 

 December 3, 2004


Memorial celebration of life service is held at Alamo Heights Methodist Church in San Antonio.
 

 December 4, 2004


Diane's body is recovered from under a brush pile in a muddy field as a result of information obtained from Pearl Cruz after she makes a deal with the Bexar County DA. The deal limits her jail time to no more than thirty years. She admits by affidavit that she was a party to the abduction, rape, and murder of Diane by Ronnie Joe Neal and agrees to testify against him as a condition of the deal.
 

 December 8, 2004


Ronnie Joe Neal accuses Bexar County sheriff's deputies of beating him.
 

 December 11, 2004


Funeral service is held for Diane Allison Tilly in hometown of Waxahachie, Texas.
 

 December 13, 2004


Ronnie Joe Neal is indicted on capital murder charges in connection with the murder of Diane Allison Tilly.
 

 January 12, 2005


Ronnie Joe Neal is denied bail by Judge Sid Harle in the capital murder charge of Diane Allison Tilly.

 April 1, 2005


Diane posthumously receives the prestigious San Antonio Bar Association Peacemaker Award.
 

 July 14, 2005


Evidentiary hearing is held to exclude evidence and statements obtained at time of arrest of Ronnie Joe Neal. All requests are denied by Judge Sid Harle. Jury selection in the capital murder trial of Ronnie Joe Neal is scheduled to begin on January 9, 2006.
 

 July 21, 2005


Associate Judge Richard Garcia orders DNA testing to determine paternity of boy born on July 8 to Pearl Ann Cruz. Cruz had identified her father, Ronnie Joe Neal, as the father of her child at the time of their arrest. Results prove Neal is the father of the child.
 

 October 3, 2005


Judge Sid Harle appoints lawyer Joel Perez to represent Ronnie Joe Neal when Cornelius Cox withdraws as his attorney.
 

 November 22, 2005


Butterfly garden and bronze plaque dedicated in Diane's memory at Robbins Academy, the Alamo Heights High School alternative school where she was lead teacher.
 

 January 13, 2006


Jury selection begins in 226th District Court, San Antonio. Judge Sid Harle presiding.
 

 February 3, 2006


Texas Association for Alternative Education dedicates its 16th Annual Conference in memory of Diane. The Alternative Learning Center of the Austin ISD presents a handmade mosaic tile bench in her memory to Robbins Academy.
 

 February 21, 2006


Trial begins in 226th District Court San Antonio, TX (Bexar County).
 

 March 1, 2006


Jury finds Ronnie Joe Neal guilty of capital murder. Defense attorneys request a continuance to allow for psychiatric testing stating that Neal is mentally retarded and should not receive the death penalty.
 

 April 3, 2006


Punishment phase of trial begins. Neal chooses to be absent from the court room during this phase of the trial.
 

 April 5, 2006


Ronnie Joe Neal attempts suicide while in the Bexar County jail by overdosing on a prescription medication. How he obtained the medication is uncertain.
 

 April 6, 2006


After almost five hours of deliberation the jury sentences Ronnie Joe Neal to death by lethal injection for the capital murder of Diane Allison Tilly.
 

 April 13, 2006


Judge sentences Pearl Cruz, Ronnie Neal's daughter, to 30 years in prison for her part in the murder of Diane Tilly.
 

 May 1, 2006


After a month of uncertainty as to Ronnie Neal's competency, Judge Sid Harle officially accepts the jury's decision and sentences him to death by lethal injection.
 

 May 2, 2006


David Galban, 2006 Waxahachie High School graduate, receives the Diane Allison Tilly Memorial Scholarship at awards presentation.
 

 February 6, 2008


Texas Court of Criminal Appeals hears oral arguments.
 

 June 18, 2008


Texas Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously affirms Ronnie Neal's death sentence.
 

 January 26, 2009


US Supreme Court refuses to review Neal's case.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Killer of Alamo Heights teacher loses appeal

By Michael Graczyk - Associated Press

Mysanantonio.com

January 26, 2009

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review the conviction of a man sent to death row for the rape-slaying of a San Antonio high school teacher.

Ronnie Joe Neal, 38, was condemned for the 2004 fatal shooting of Diane Tilly, 58. She was missing from her San Antonio home for nearly two weeks when police found her body in a rural area of Bexar County.

The Supreme Court refusal is an early stage of Nealís appeals. His lawyers could file another round of appeals.

Neal does not have an execution date.

Nealís then 16-year-old daughter, Pearl Cruz, also was involved in the slaying. Testimony showed she knocked on the victimís door under the pretense of needing to use the phone, and when Tilly let her in both she and her father barged in. Neal raped the teacher while the teen held a gun on her.

They also robbed the woman of jewelry, forced her to divulge the password to her ATM card so they could take money from her bank account and then took her away in her own car, which later was set on fire. Evidence showed Neal shot Tilly six times.

Cruz testified against her father in exchange for a maximum prison sentence of 30 years. She testified her father had sexually abused her for years before the murder and sold her to other men for cash and drugs. Cruz gave birth to a son and her father was the father of the child.

At his trial, Nealís attorneys argued he was mentally retarded and should be spared the death penalty. A Bexar County jury disagreed.

Evidence showed Neal tried but failed to use a condom when he raped Tilly, then doused her with hydrogen peroxide in hopes of destroying his DNA. He also used Tillyís .357-caliber pistol for the murder weapon instead of his own gun, which would have discharged casings.

The pair was arrested after using the victimís credit cards.

 
 


The victim, Diane Allison Tilly, 58.
 

 

 
 
 
 
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