Local News

Fair Found Guilty of First Degree Murder

Posted May 9, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Nathaniel Fair Jr. has been found guilty of the first degree murder of Wake County assistant principal Reubin McNeill. Fair was also found guilty of robbery with a dangerous weapon.

The charges could carry the death penalty. The sentencing phase of the trial is scheduled to begin Thursday morning at 9:30.

McNeill's family cried as the verdict was read. The emotional trial lasted five weeks and there were some accusations of sexual encounters and drug abuse that disturbed the victim's family.

The jury deliberated for five hours Tuesday, then resumed deliberations Wednesday morning before reaching a verdict.

McNeill's widow said that with the verdict in, she can concentrate on dealing with the loss of her husband.

During the trial, jurors heard different stories from the defense and the prosecution. Monday, as both sides presented their closing arguments, the family of Reubin McNeill heard two versions of how he died last August.

Lawyers for Fair maintained McNeill was stabbed to death by a local drug dealer known as T-Bone. The prosecution questioned the credibility of Fair's testimony.

"None of [Fair's story] was corroborated," said prosecutor Susan Spurlin. "It was what he said happened. There are a lot of parts that I do not think were true."

"The story appeared to unfold as he testified. He appeared, I argue to you, to be making it up as he went along," said prosecutor Shelly Desvouges.

Prosecutors apparently made a more compelling case. A lot of physical evidence including samples of Fair's blood on McNeill's clothes and stolen Explorer helped.

For their part, defense attorneys cast doubt on the state's witnesses, including a prison inmate who testified about an alleged conversation with Fair after the murder.

"Haywood McCoy told you the defendant was upset when he saw that the car was gone and that he told him 'I cut a guy up,'" Spurlin said.

"We see people every day and we judge them, judge these witnesses," said defense attorney Thomas Manning of the jury.

The defense also told jurors that despite some DNA evidence linking Fair to the crime, there was a lack of evidence proving he did it. andLen BesthoffandGil HollingsworthandJason Darwin