Nealy was found guilty of first degree murder and rape. Prosecutors say DNA found on the victim, Jody Wolfe, proves Nealy's guilt. But Nealy's attorney says his client had consensual sexual contact with the girl, but did not kill her.
Nealy has two previous rape convictions. That is information being kept from the jury now. But the death penalty phase of the trial allows for more information to go on record.
"Anything gets to come in, within certain reasons," said Defense Attorney Eric Green. "But prior convictions, evidence of prior convictions, that type of thing gets to come in without limitation."
This is Fresno's first death penalty case five in years.
Investigators only caught up to Nealy in 2004, almost 20 years after Wolfe was raped and killed.
Evidence of the actual murder is scarce, which leaves the defense stunned by Wednesday's verdict.
Nealy will be back in court Tuesday morning, where prosecutors will open their case to convince the jurors that he should be put to death.