Local News

Death row inmate re-sentenced for 1993 Food Lion murders

Posted September 10, 2012

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— A man serving on North Carolina's death row for his role in the shooting deaths of two Food Lion employees nearly 19 years ago was resentenced to life in prison Monday after prosecutors said they will no longer pursue the case to get his execution carried out.

Elmer Ray McNeill Jr., 42, was convicted in 1996 of first-degree murder in the deaths of Michael Truelove, 20, and John Ray, 27, who were closing the north Raleigh grocery store when they were each shot in the back of the head during a robbery on the night of Sept. 19, 1993.

McNeill was sentenced to death but a federal court, in 2009, reversed the sentence, finding that his defense was constitutionally inadequate because it failed to uncover and present evidence at trial that McNeill suffered from depression and physical and childhood sexual abuse.

The state initially announced it wanted a new sentencing hearing, but Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby recently said he would be satisfied with a life sentence, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents McNeill.

"Given the circumstances of this case, life is certainly the appropriate sentence," said Jonathan Broun of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, who also represented McNeill. "We applaud the district attorney for recognizing that truth and for upholding justice."

McNeill was one of two men convicted in the case.

His older brother, Robert Anthony McNeill, 44, was sentenced to life in prison for the crimes after a jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether he should have been put to death for the crimes.

Prosecutors argued that Elmer McNeill shot Truelove and that Robert McNeill, who worked at the store, at the intersection of Six Forks and Strickland roads, plotted the killings and robbery.

86 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • RaleighConservative Sep 12, 2012

    Keep electing liberals to your justice system.

  • torchhappysean Sep 12, 2012

    Nice move judge... Maybe in another 20 years you can justify setting him free... We in NC have a death penalty for a reason... It is high time we started using it instead of letting these criminals waste our tax dollars filing appeal after appeal untill they find a judge sympathetic to their cause..

  • OpenM1nd Sep 12, 2012

    "McNeill suffered from depression and physical and childhood sexual abuse"

    So somehow that makes him less guilty and less able to know right from wrong. Isn't that what they are saying?

    My condolences to the families of the victims for their tragic losses.

  • rcrdngcountry Sep 12, 2012

    IF BEING RAISED ROUGH GROWING UP GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO GO OUT
    AND KILL PEOPLE, I WOULD HAVE KILLED EVERYONE IN THE NEIGHBOR
    HOOD. HAS NOT ONE THING WITH YOUR CHILDHOOD, ITS ALL BEING NO
    GOOD AND COLD HEARTED.

  • rcrdngcountry Sep 12, 2012

    MAN ITS HARD TO GET JUSTICE IN NORTH CAROLINA. THESE TWO MEN
    PAID WITH THEIR LIFE, AND WE HAVE PEOPLE WORKING VERY HARD TO
    SURE THE ONES THAT TOOK EVERYTHING THEY HAD, DON'T HAVE TO PAY
    FOR WHAT THEY DID. LIFE IN PRISON, A BIG DEAL. DEATH SHOULD BE
    THE PENALTY, FOR COLD BLOODED MURDER. DO YOU FEEL YOU DID A
    GOOD JOB, OF DOING AWAY WITH JUSTICE FOR THE TWO YOUNG MEN. CAN
    YOU FEEL PROUD OF YOUR JOB?

  • puzzled Sep 12, 2012

    Are you here in the usa with the rest of us? The ACLU not only defends individual liberties and freedom of speech, they defend the freedom of speech of conservatives, evangelicals and even the KKK. What they do NOT do, is allow or defend religion to infiltrate schools, our government, or our health care system. They stand up for all individual rights, including the rights of gays to marry, of atheists to be equally respected and for a woman to have the rights to control their own bodies. They are against capital punishment since it has been proven time and time again to be not only harmful, but inefficient. A "dangerous organization"? One could easily label many other organizations that, including the church.
    atheistswillrule

    REALLY! Wow! This is news to the real world. They stand for causes, and it is usually very liberal causes. Find a case where they stood for a conservative cause and fought and won.

  • Barely Sep 12, 2012

    He was angry he was fired and came back with a relative to get vengence. They took the only two people still in the store back into the freezer and executed them. It wasn't a robbery. It was a calculated murder out of ignorance and anger.

  • foghat001 Sep 12, 2012

    Put the death penalty back into action NC!

  • Sherlock Sep 12, 2012

    The ACLU will not stand up for the individual they never have and never will, they stand on causes that they know they can win and only then will you hear from them, these are lawyers that could not get the big paying jobs.

  • Sherlock Sep 12, 2012

    What does his childhood matter in this case, because he was mstreated that is an excuse to kill people? Now he needs to spend 23 1/2 hrs a day in his cell for th erest of his life.

More...