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Court refuses review of 1978 murder conviction

City News Service | 6/14/2019, midnight

The California Supreme Court refused this week to hear the case of a man convicted of the 1978 rape and murder of a mother of three who was abducted while working the night shift at a gas station in Palmdale.

Neal Antoine Matthews is serving a life prison term without the possibility of parole for the December 1978 execution-style shooting of 20-year-old Leslie Long.

Matthews was convicted in September 2017 of first-degree murder, with jurors finding true the special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery, murder during a kidnapping and murder during a rape.

Co-defendant Terry Moses—who was charged along with Matthews—pleaded guilty in January 2016 to Long’s killing, along with the Aug. 22, 1976, murders of Carlton Goodwin and Michael Fuqua and an attempted murder in December 1996. Moses was sentenced to three life prison terms without the possibility of parole.

Authorities said DNA evidence linked both men to the attack on Long.

Moses initially told investigators that his cohort was a since-deceased man, but subsequently acknowledged that it was Matthews after authorities indicated that they planned to exhume the man’s body to test for DNA, according to a state appeals court panel ruling in February that upheld Matthews’ conviction.

DNA tests confirmed that Matthews’ DNA was found in sperm samples collected from the victim’s body, the appellate court justices wrote in the Feb. 28 ruling.

Long was attacked while working the night shift on Dec. 3, 1978, at what was then a Chevron gas station on the corner of Palmdale Boulevard and Division Street. The robbers took money from a floor safe and kidnapped her at gunpoint.

Her body was found three days later at the base of a small hill just off the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway at Soledad Canyon Road in Acton. Investigators believe she was killed there. She had been sexually assaulted and shot five times in the back of the head.