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NAACP picks up fight to free Wilson native from Georgia prison

Posted September 12, 2012
Updated September 13, 2012

— The NAACP is getting involved in the case of a Wilson native who has served more than five years in a Georgia prison for a killing that he maintains was self-defense.

John McNeil and his family were the only black residents living in an upscale suburban Atlanta neighborhood in 2005 when he shot and killed a white man on his property. Witnesses corroborated McNeil's story that the man had threatened McNeil's son with a knife and refused to leave the property even after McNeil fired a warning shot into the ground.

Police initially ruled the case self-defense, but months later, the Cobb County District Attorney's Office pursued a murder charge against McNeil and won a conviction.

"The McNeil case is a prime example of the age-old unequal justice in the court system," Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, said in a statement. "The Castle Doctrine doesn't appear to apply to him. In Georgia, a black man's home is not a castle. His home means nothing before the law."

Georgia passed a Castle Doctrine law, allowing homeowners to stand their ground and use deadly force if threatened, a year after McNeil's shooting. The state law previously required homeowners to show they had tried to retreat before using deadly force in order to claim self-defense. Anita McNeil Ailing Wilson woman hopes to see husband freed from prison

Barber, Georgia NAACP President Ed DuBose and national NAACP President Ben Jealous visited McNeil at Macon State Prison on Monday, and DuBose arranged for McNeil's wife to visit him on Wednesday.

Anita McNeil, who has since moved back to Wilson, flew to Georgia on a flight arranged by Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose and local business owner Jeff Chesson.

The trip marked the first time she has seen her husband in two years. In that time, his mother has died, and Anita McNeil has suffered a recurrence of breast cancer, with the illness spreading to her liver and lungs.

"I'm not only fighting for my husband, but I'm fighting for the homeowner who should have the right to protect their home, for the father who should have the right to go home to make sure that his child is safe and for John, who I know wouldn't have hurt anybody unless he really felt his life was threatened," she said.

NAACP officials said they are concerned that Anita McNeil might not live long enough to see the fight to free her husband through to the end.


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  • teebone Sep 17, 2012

    The Castle Doctrine and its extended counterparts should not even have to be codified into law. Natural Rights are self-evident, and don't need lawyers to 'interpret' them.

    Based upon the witness testimony, his act was justified. I question the "warning shot", though, because if you have to shoot to stop someone, you HAVE TO SHOOT HIM, not the ground.

    This guy should never have been charged. Neither should Zimmerman have been, and even though SYG is codified and the police and prosecutor refused to charge him, a political lyinching was initiated.

    For shame. And people wonder why some don't trust "the system"?

  • Weetie Sep 13, 2012

    well....imagine that!

  • DooksucksV.2 Sep 13, 2012

    A little more about the case:


    He chose to confront him after calling the police. The man also had a knife, but it was folded away in his pocket.

    He also fired a shot into the ground, a no-no.

  • muggs Sep 13, 2012

    If the White race had an organization advocating for their rights it would be considered racist, we had one and the federal government moved in on it but continue to listen to the NAACP, they bring racism on themselves.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Sep 13, 2012

    It isn't only in the South.


    You are absolutely right about that. Its everywhere.

  • bayrvr Sep 13, 2012

    "There isn't much need for them up North".
    PLEASE don't insult our intelligence! There is prejudice everywhere. It isn't only in the South.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Sep 13, 2012

    I'm so grateful to the NAACP for the fine work they do

    I would never call on the NAACP for NOTHING! They need a new president, I will continue to say that much.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Sep 13, 2012

    He killed a man and justice was served. He should have called the law and allow them to handle the matter. But he took it into his own hands. That was not the way to go.

  • Winston Sep 13, 2012

    Chill westernwake..McNeil is going to rot in jail.

  • bill0 Sep 13, 2012

    "babbleon - If you would read all of the court documents, you would realize that there was never any evidence of a threat with a knife by Mr. Epps to the son.

    Unfortunately, that doesn't fit your narrative so you'll ignore it along with the fact that the shooter lied about Mr. Epps charging him with a knife. The knife was clearly in Mr. Epps pocket as he lay dying."

    That isn't really true. Nobody disputes that Epps did threaten the son with a knife. That was about 15 minutes before the father arrived back home. By that point, the son was back in the house and the knife was in Epps pocket. That is the part that was disputed. If you want to claim self defense, you need to show you were in imminent danger. You can't just guess that because he had a knife earlier he might still have one.