A man made his first Orange County court appearance Wednesday after being extradited from Colorado for the 1973 Newport Beach cold case murder of Linda O’Keefe, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced in a press release.
James Alan Neal, 72, of Monument, Colo., is charged with one felony count of murder while engaged in the commission of, or attempted commission of, the performance of lewd acts upon a child under the age of 14, and five felony counts of performance of lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under the age of 14, with a sentencing enhancement allegation for multiple victims.
Neal is scheduled for a continued arraignment on March 29, at 10 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
Neal faces a maximum sentence of 82 years to life in state prison.
During the press conference on Feb. 20 announcing the charges in this case, Spitzer indicated that the death penalty would be researched as an option in this case.
“It is the conclusion of the District Attorney that the death penalty is not an available legal option in this case,” Wednesday’s statement reads.
The combination of DNA technology, an online genealogy database, and traditional police work led Newport Beach Police Department investigators to take Neal into custody in February for the kidnapping and murder of O’Keefe.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.