Daughter finds justice 36 years after mother's rape and murder

A Bay Area woman has been  fighting for justice since her mother was raped and killed 36 years ago. 

Now Joanne Paletta's efforts seem to have been rewarded.

She walked into the Alameda County courthouse Tuesday, carrying a framed photo of her mother, so the man accused of killing her would see it in court.

"I want him to see the beautiful person he took away. I want him to see this face," said Paletta.

The photo was taken a few weeks before Betty Elias was raped, stabbed and strangled  in October of 1979. She was 45 years old.

"She was the life of the party. She could always make you laugh. She was really fun. A very, very religious lady," said her daughter.

The killing happened inside her mother's apartment on San Pablo Avenue.  The building  looks much different now.

For more than three decades the case remained unsolved. Paletta says she stayed in contact with police all that time.

"My goal was to make sure i followed through with it. And the last two detectives believed in me and stayed with it" she said.

Earlier this year, DNA matched Dennis Ray Eagle who was serving time in Virginia for another sex crime.

"I was ecstatic. I knew it was going to come to an end soon," said Paletta.

Eagle was scheduled to enter a plea to the rape and murder charge. But the hearing was postponed in a case that could bring the death penalty.

Paletta says she intends to come to every court hearing, carrying with her, her mother's picture.

"I think she is really proud of me for staying on top of it. And being so persistent and not giving up," said Paletta.