People v. Dennis Ray Eagle

A jury has found Dennis Ray Eagle guilty of 1st degree murder in the October 28, 1979 death of Betty Jean Elias. The defendant was also found guilty of the alleged special circumstance of rape in the commission of that murder. Ms. Elias was found dead in her hotel room on San Pablo Ave. in Oakland. She had been violently beaten, she had defensive wounds on her hands, and the coroner determined she had been strangled to death.

There was a fingerprint inked in blood on a curtain rod found underneath her bed, the curtain from that rod had been used to cover her body. The fingerprint was compared to a number of possible suspects at the time, but none matched. The coroner recovered sperm from her body during the course of the autopsy, and that evidence was kept for over 36 years before it was finally tested in 2015. The DNA profile developed from the sperm was put into the CODIS database and produced a hit to the defendant, who was then serving time in federal prison for the sexual assault of a woman on the Indian reservation in Montana where he lived most of his life. Once he was identified as the possible source of the DNA, OPD Latent Fingerprint Examiner Kimberly Lankford compared his known prints to the one on the curtain rod and determined that Mr. Eagle was the source of that print. Mr. Eagle, who was 18 years old at the time of this crime, denied ever having been to Oakland, or having had any sexual contact with the victim. He was sentenced on June 28, 2019 in Dept. 5 of the Superior Court. Because the Special Circumstance was found to be true, Mr. Eagle was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This case was prosecuted by DDA Mark Melton. Inspector Kevin Wiley assisted, the victim advocate was Stephanie Lynch, who has been working with the victim’s daughter since 2016 when the case was charged.

Posted on May 15, 2019