Supreme Court upholds conviction in brutal 1998 murder, sex assault of teenager

Daniel Nachmani will continue serving life sentence over Noa Eyal’s death after panel rejects claims that incriminating DNA evidence was obtained illegally

Daniel Nachmani, accused in the murder of Noa Eyal, is taken from the courtroom of the Jerusalem District Court on April 29, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Daniel Nachmani, accused in the murder of Noa Eyal, is taken from the courtroom of the Jerusalem District Court on April 29, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the appeal of a man sentenced to life in prison over the 1998 sexual assault and murder of teenager Noa Eyal, which rocked the country at the time.

Dismissing the claims by Daniel Nachmani’s defense team — including an allegation that the incriminating DNA evidence had been obtained illegally — the three-judge panel ruled unanimously in favor of upholding the 2019 Jerusalem District Court conviction.

Nachmani, 44, was only arrested in 2014 after advanced DNA sampling methods identified him as the culprit.

The method matched evidence from the crime scene to a saliva sample that police gathered after he spat on the street.

The defense in its appeal argued that the “family search” method for obtaining the DNA should have been inadmissible.

Eyal, 17, disappeared late at night on February 22, 1998, as she made her way home after seeing a movie with a friend. She was last seen waiting at a bus stop in Davidka Square in downtown Jerusalem.

Her body was found the following evening in a forest near the capital’s northwestern neighborhood of Ramot, where she lived.

For 16 years the murder remained unsolved even though investigators had managed to obtain DNA samples of the suspect from the crime scene. Samples were taken from a long list of possible sex offenders across the country, but there were no matches linking any of them to Eyal.

A breakthrough came when police obtained permission to use an advanced DNA analysis method that enables linking between family members within the pool of samples held by cops.

The technology narrowed down the search to Nachmani as a prime suspect. Police began following him and managed to secure a DNA sample after he spat in the street. The sample matched evidence taken at the murder scene and he was arrested in 2014. Nachmani also lived in the Ramot neighborhood at the time.

The Supreme Court rejected the defense’s claim that the retrieval of Nachmani’s saliva had been done illegally, saying that no permission was required under those circumstances.

“The appellant’s guilt cries out from the accumulation of evidence against him in the case,” the judges wrote. “Words do not have the power to describe the hell that the appellant brought upon the victim in the final moments of her life.”

According to the charge sheet, Eyal took a ride with Nachmani after missing the last bus. Midway, he veered off the main road and headed to the forest, where he committed the crimes. The court in January 2019 convicted Nachmani, a married father of two from Jerusalem who works as a car electrician, of murder and sexual assault, but acquitted him of an additional charge of rape due to lack of evidence.

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