GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT/WNCN) — Rexford Lynn Keel, a North Carolina man accused of killing his wife in 2019, was in court in Greenville on Monday as jury selection was complete and a trial was set to begin.
However, Keel pleaded no contest to the murder and was sentenced by a judge to up to 41 years in prison on murder and kidnapping charges.
Keel, now 59, had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 38-year-old Diana Keel in 2019.
The Nash County sheriff said she had been stabbed and beaten to death. Court documents from 2019 show his wife was found wearing only underwear and her wedding ring.
She was reported missing more than a week before her body was found. Rexford Lynn Keel was questioned following her disappearance but later released.
Keel was arrested near Tuscon, Arizona in 2019 after a manhunt for him.
According to the Arizona search warrant, he was found with a knife, camping gear, and medication. Court documents show his pickup truck was spotted by a license plate reader.
Pima County (Arizona) Superior Court Judge Lee Ann Roads found Lynn Keel knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently gave up his right to challenge extradition and signed the waiver.
He was brought back to Nash County on March 22, 2019.
Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said Lynn Keel had taken a $1 million life insurance policy out on Diana Keel before her death.
Lynn Keel’s first wife died on Jan. 1, 2006, when she fell on the back steps of the home she shared with her husband. Authorities said they may go back and look into her death again.