Local News

Wake County Jury Sentences Fair to Death

Posted May 16, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Just after noon, a Wake County jury sentenced Nathaniel Fair Jr. to death formurderingWake County Assistant Principal Reubin McNeill and stealing his credit cards and Ford Explorer.

The jury took two days to reach its sentence.

Fair did not have anything to say after the sentencing.

McNeill's family waited until they got outside of the courtroom where, led by McNeill's soft-spoken widow, they broke the silence they have held since the trial began.

"It has been hard, very hard. When you have two boys, it's hard," said Carolyn McNeill.

Family members agreed with the death penalty imposed by the jury which refused to comment after the trial.

"It was a vicious murder. It isn't like he stabbed him only one time. It was 19 times. He gets what he deserves," said Ralph McNeill, the victim's brother.

The family did not want to discuss Fair's allegation during the trial that McNeill bought him crack in exchange for sex. Instead, they focused on the positives including the fact that now they can fully mourn the death of a loved one.

An appeal is automatic to the state Supreme Court, but it could be a year or more before it is even heard.

There were some strong closing arguments Monday. The prosecution said that basically all McNeill meant to Fair was a nice car and a shopping spree at Crabtree Valley Mall.

Fair's attorneys argued he could still make positive contributions to society evidenced by his ability to do well in school and hold down a job.

Prosecutors say his intelligence is precisely why Fair should get the death penalty for the murder of McNeill.

"It tells you that he wasn't stupid. It tells you that he had the ability to think, to reason, to decide, to make choices. He made bad choices," said Assistant District Attorney Shelley Desvousges.

Fair's attorneys painted their client as a victim of his crack addiction who could still turn his life around even in prison.

"People use drugs. Some people get over it. Some people don't. Some people can't. Some people get it worse than other people," said Defense Attorney Tommy Manning.