Local News

Sentencing Phase Begins In Food Lion Murder Trial

Posted Updated

RALEIGH — April 4, 1996 - 9:10 a.m. EST

A Wake County jury will began hearing evidence today in the sentencing phase of the so-called Food Lion murder trial.

Elmer Ray McNeill Jr., 25, was convicted Wednesday of two counts of first-egree murder in the execution-style deaths of Michael Truelove and John Ray.

The jury of eight men and four women also convicted McNeill of armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. The jury returned its verdicts just before noon. They restarted deliberations at 9:45 a.m. today after deliberating about four hours on Tuesday.

The jury will recommend whether McNeill should be sentenced to die or to spend life in prison for the crimes.

The crime occurred Sept. 19, 1993, as Truelove, 20, and Ray, 27, were closing up the Food Lion grocery store at Strickland and Six Forks roads in North Raleigh.

The McNeill trial has caught the interest of even seasoned court-watchers because it has split the McNeill family in two. Another brother, Robert, is also charged in the murders and is scheduled to be tried this fall. He is serving a 23-year sentence for robbing another Food Lion store in 1993.

A third brother, Michael, took the stand to implicate his siblings in the murder by recounting a phone conversation he said he had with Elmer Ray five months after the slayings

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