Thursday, June 17, 2010

Texas death-row inmate Ronnie Neal found dead in Polunsky Unit cell

Ronnie Neal, convicted in the November 2004 robbery, rape and death of Robbins Academy schoolteacher Diane Tilly, was found dead this weekend in his state prison cell, Bexar County officials confirmed Tuesday.

Neal, 39, was inside his death row cell at the Polunsky Unit, Bexar County First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg said. He said prison officials notified his office of the death Monday.

Neal and his teenage daughter, Pearl Cruz, were convicted in 2006. Neal was sentenced to death, and Cruz received a 30-year prison term.

Tilly, 58, the lead teacher at the alternative high school in Alamo Heights, was tricked into letting Cruz into her house. Her body was left in a field and discovered 2 weeks after she was reported missing.

The case drew widespread interest, drawing a national television show, Court TV's "Forensic Files," to San Antonio for a segment on the Tilly murder.

Herberg said authorities have not determined what caused Neal's death (1). Neal was awaiting an execution date.

Source: San Antonio Express-News, June 17, 2010

(1) Addendum by Gloria Rubac, NACDP: "Ronnie Neal killed himself--cause of death is suicide. The men that lived by him said he had been talking about it and planning it all week. Even said he would do it on Sunday since there were fewer guards or something like that. But this was to fake out his friends as he did it on Saturday. He had packed up his belongings and given away his personal property.

Ronnie overdosed on pills that he had saved up. One of the guys even told a guard, trying to prevent it and they took away a bottle of pills but then gave them back?!?!? Gotta wonder about the mentality of the people who work there.
Life on Texas death row kills the men, some faster than others."

Click here to see recent annotated pictures of the living conditions on Texas' Death Row.