Summary of Events - Diane Allison Tilly Murder

All dates and events are from newspaper articles and are not intended or expected to be exact for legal or prosecutorial purposes. The data provided is for timeline and informational purposes only.
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.
June 12, 2010 Ronnie Joe Neal found dead in his cell on death row. His death, initially thought to be from natural causes, has been officially ruled a suicide from overdose of drugs. He had sent a family member a letter stating when the letter was read, he would be dead. He proved to be a worthless coward to the end...
Last updated: June 30, 2010