Lypps acquitted of killing his wife in formerly cold Morro Bay case

November 15, 2016

James Victor Lypps

James Victor Lypps

Following a cold case DNA discovery and twists and turns in court, a Morro Bay murder case ended Monday without a conviction. A San Luis Obispo County jury found Nipomo man James Lypps not guilty of murdering his wife at the couple’s then-Morro Bay home in 2009.

During a four-week trial, prosecutors argued Lypps, 66, driven by marital and financial problems, murdered his wife, Sherre Ann Neal-Lypps, 62. But, defense attorney Matt Guerrero argued Neal-Lypps lost her battle with depression and committed suicide.

On June 23, 2009, Lypps called 911 and frantically reported that it seemed his wife had slipped in the bathtub. Paramedics arrived at the home and found Neal-Lypps submerged in the tub.

The SLO County coroner ruled Neal-Lypps’ cause of death was asphyxiation due to strangulation and drowning, but Morro Bay police did not make an arrest for more than five years. During that span, cold case investigators found that police did not process the victim’s fingernail clippings for DNA. When police finally sent the clippings to the Department of Justice crime lab, they returned with Lypps’ DNA on them.

In late 2014 and early 2015, Lypps was arrested twice for his wife’s murder. Following his first arrest, a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to rule out suicide, nor a clear motive to proceed with the murder trial.

The judge ordered Lypps’ release from SLO County Jail, prompting the district attorney’s office to order that he be arrested again. Authorities rearrested Lypps the day after his release.

Following nearly two years of contentious court proceedings, the case went to trial last month. Prosecutors pointed to a mark found on Neal-Lypps’ neck, which they said indicated she was strangled. Guerrero showed the jury suicide notes he claimed were written by Neal-Lypps.

Lypps was in tears after Monday’s verdict. Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham released a statement saying prosecutors still made the correct decision to try the case.

“While we see the evidence differently, we respect the jury, their hard work on this case and their verdict,” Cunningham said. “In carefully evaluating all of the evidence in this case, we were convinced that the defendant was guilty of murdering his wife. It was therefore our duty to prosecute this case to seek justice for the victim. Ultimately, the jury was not convinced that the evidence met the required burden of proof, which is proof ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ We respect their decision.”







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3 Comments

  1. Josey Wales says:

    Ladies & Gentlemen,

    SLO County prosecutor Dan Dow ought to be ashamed of himself.

    This is a classic case of prosecutorial misconduct, and SLO County had no business prosecuting this gentlemen. This was a waste of taxpayer dollars, and I feel we ought to prosecute Dan Dow for attempting to ruin Mr. Lypps life.

    A ‘hunch’ does not rise to the level of probable cause.

    Let’s expect more ought of those we elect to office.

    Just saying,

    Josey

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  2. SLO_Johnny says:

    How many hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on this case over the years? The judge was right the first time. The evidence wasn’t there. I’d like to ask the jury how do they think that she died?

    (9) 17 Total Votes - 13 up - 4 down
  3. gangsta1 says:

    Congratulations Mr.Lypps and to your attorney.May your tears of joy move you forward to a better life.

    (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down

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