A 60-year-old man accused of raping and stabbing a woman to death in front of her children in their South Los Angeles home more than 40 years ago made his initial court appearance Monday on a capital murder charge.
Kenneth Ray Matthews — also known as Kenneth Ray Boone — appeared in court, after refusing to do so last week, in yellow and blue jail clothes, but did not enter a plea. His arraignment was rescheduled to May 30, and he remains in custody without bail.
Matthews is charged with the Dec. 6, 1977, killing of Leona Davis. The 25-year-old victim was attacked at her home in the 8700 block of Menlo Avenue just after putting her 4- and 7-year-old sons to bed.
After raping her and stabbing her in the neck, Davis’ attacker stole items from the house and ran off.
Matthews was originally charged with forcible rape and attempted first-degree residential robbery, along with the murder count, but the rape and robbery charges were dropped in an amended complaint because they fell outside the statute of limitations, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
“This case was solved by a fingerprint,” Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee said outside the courtroom, telling reporters she wanted to be clear that it wasn’t DNA that led investigators to Matthews, who was 18 at the time of the crime.
The fingerprint was found during the original examination of the crime scene, but it wasn’t until later that Matthews’ prints appeared in a national database, the prosecutor said.
DNA evidence that also alleged ties Matthews to the crime was collected as part of “investigatory follow-up,” Hanisee said.
The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a rape and murder during the commission of a robbery. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty for Matthews, who was arrested last Tuesday by detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division.