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Indictment handed down in nurse’s killing

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NASHVILLE — A Nash County grand jury has indicted the husband of a Wilson nurse in her death earlier this year.

Lynn Keel, 57, faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of 38-year-old Diana Keel. The indictment was handed down Monday. A trial date hasn’t been set.

Keel entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment in late March.

Under state law, the only two allowable punishments for first-degree murder are death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. A Rule 24 hearing to determine whether prosecutors will seek Keel’s execution hasn’t been held, according to officials at the Nash County Courthouse.

Keel’s attorney could seek a deal to trade a guilty plea for a change in the murder charge to a lesser count. Keel is represented by Matthew Geoffrion, an assistant public defender in Greenville. Geoffrion didn’t immediately return a message left at his office.

Keel, who lived with his wife on Old County Home Road near Momeyer, initially reported his wife missing in early March but fled the area as authorities began to focus their investigation on him.

Arizona authorities captured Keel in Tucson, Arizona — more than 2,000 miles from Nash County — about five days after he went on the lam.

Nash County authorities extradited Keel back to North Carolina on March 22.

Diana Keel’s decomposing body was discovered a few days after her husband reported her missing. State transportation workers stumbled upon her body along a rural road in Edgecombe County.

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said he’s pleased with the progress in the case. He said he’s empathetic with the Keel family. The Keels have a young daughter.

Investigators continue to look into the death of Keel’s first wife. Elizabeth Bess Edwards Keel, 42, died of head trauma in 2006. Lynn Keel said she fell down a set of steps and hit her forehead. The fatal incident occurred at the same Old County Home Road house.

Lynn Keel married Diana, known as Ali to her friends, less than a year after his first wife died, bringing her to Nash County from Latin America.

Keel is being held on pretrial confinement at Central Prison in Raleigh. Bail isn’t allowed in first-degree murder cases.