A man is facing a capital murder charge for allegedly raping and killing a 25-year-old woman in 1977, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced this week.
Kenneth Ray Matthews, 60, has been charged with one count each of murder, forcible rape and attempted first-degree residential robbery. The criminal complaint includes the special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a rape and murder during the commission of a robbery, making him eligible for the death penalty.
Matthews was scheduled for arraignment this week in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee of the Major Crimes Division is prosecuting the case.
On Dec. 6, 1977, Leona Davis had just put her two sons, ages 4 and 7, to bed at her home in the 8700 block of Menlo Avenue in South Los Angeles. Matthews is accused of raping and fatally stabbing Davis in the neck in front of the two children. The defendant fled after he allegedly stole items from the victim’s house.
DNA evidence collected at the victim’s house tied Matthews to the crime, the prosecutor said. Matthews was arrested last week.
If convicted as charged, Matthews faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole. A decision whether to seek the death penalty will be made at a later date.
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division.