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William Lee NEAL






A.K.A.: "Cody"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape
Victims profile: 3
Date of murders: June-July 1998
Date of birth: October 7, 1955
Victims profile: Angela Fite / Candace Walters / Rebecca Holberton
Method of murder: Beating with an ax
Location: Colorado, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on September 29, 1999.  Commuted to life on 2003

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Charmin' Billy by Steve Jackson


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Triple-ax murderer sentenced to death

September 30, 1999

GOLDEN, Colo. ( -- Rejecting confessed triple-ax murderer William "Cody" Neal's claims that he is a changed man who wants to live so he can serve God in prison, a three-judge panel instead sentenced him to death.

Neal, 43, pleaded guilty in February to bludgeoning to death Angela Fite, Candace Walters and Rebecca Holberton with a logging ax during a weeklong killing rampage in July 1998. He tied up a fourth victim, forced her to watch one of the murders and then raped her.

In a sentencing hearing Wednesday, presiding Judge Thomas Woodford told Neal his crimes were "brutal, needless killings" that also emotionally devastated the victims' families.

"[The] panel has determined that the only penalty that can be imposed in accordance with the law which these judges are sworn to uphold is a death sentence," Woodford said.

'Depravity not commonly seen'

Prosecutors contended that Neal stole the women's money and then killed them to cover his crimes. Neal, who acted as his own lawyer, never refuted the charges and declined to cross-examine prosecution witnesses during the 10-day sentencing proceedings.

Neal told the judges in earlier testimony that he knew he deserved no mercy but that he had turned his life over to God and wanted to minister to other inmates if his life was spared.

Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas said Neal's case was "tailor-made" for the death penalty.

"These extremely heinous crimes were done with a cruelty and depravity not commonly seen," Thomas told "The testimony was unlike anything I've seen in 26 years [as a prosecutor] -- it was nothing short of chilling."

Carnage at the crime scene

But Neal's court-appointed legal advisor, defense attorney Randy Canney, told that he wonders if justice will be done if the state executes a defendant whom he believes is mentally ill.

"[Neal] can't adequately represent himself; he fired his public defenders and pleaded straight up to the murders with no sentencing concessions," Canney said. "But you have gutless prosecutors who want to kill people for their own political good."

Neal gets an automatic appeal, and Canney said he would try in his limited capacity to see that independent psychiatric testimony is included in the appellate trial.

During the hearing, the judges heard grisly details of the crimes from police officers who viewed the carnage at the crime scene, Neal's taped confessions and emotional testimony from the rape victim.

Victim forced to watch bludgeoning

The 22-year-old woman testified that Neal lashed her to a mattress in the town house where the murders occurred and made her watch as he crushed Fite's skull with a log-splitting maul. Neal then raped the woman at gunpoint.

Neal still faces sentencing on nine other counts related to the crime spree, including sexual assault, kidnapping and theft charges.

Neal is the sixth death-penalty defendant to face the new sentencing law in Colorado capital cases that requires a three-judge panel to unanimously agree to impose a death sentence.

Neal will become the fifth man on Colorado's death row.


William "Cody" Neal

February 25, 1999

Triple murderer William "Cody" Neal pleaded guilty to the rape, torture and ax slayings of three women in a Golden, Colorado, condominium last summer. Forty-three-year-old Neal, who recently fired his attorney and was representing himself, entered the plea at his arraignment. Investigators had said he confessed to the crimes less than a week after they  took place.

Neal was "very calm, very collected, very sure" of himself during the arraignment, says Russell. "He made these choices intellegently, very knowingly. He seemed competent." Neal pleaded guilty to all 13 counts against him, including three counts of first-degree murder; two counts of second-degree kidnapping; two counts of first-degree sexual assault; two counts of criminal extortion; two violent crime charges related to the kidnapping; and one count of felony theft.



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