GOLDSBORO, N.C. — A Wayne County grand jury indicted a man in connection with a rape case in which a second man spent 18 years in prison before DNA evidence cleared him.
William Jackson Neal Jr. was indicted on one count each of first-degree burglary, first-degree statutory sexual offense, first-degree statutory rape and indecent liberties in the 1987 rape of a 12-year-old Goldsboro girl.
The girl initially identified Dwayne Allen Dail as her attacker, and hair found at the scene was similar to his. DNA evidence found on a fragment of the girl's nightgown years after the trial, however, proved Dail wasn't involved in the attack.
Dail, 39, was released from prison in August.
In a phone interview from his home in Florida, he said the news is "a huge relief" and something he's been waiting for a long time.
"Nothing can undo what William Neal had done," he said. "But at least we can make sure that he is not able to ever victimize anyone else."
Neal, 52, is serving a maximum prison sentence of 93 months in Johnston County for a conviction on a habitual felon charge. He has a criminal record dating to 1974, with convictions including felony breaking and entering and forgery.
He was being held under a $1 million bond on the latest charges.
If convicted, Neal faces a maximum of life in prison on the rape and sexual offense charges and 50 years to life for the burglary charge, the maximum penalties in place at the time the crimes occurred.
Dail said he plans to be at every day of Neal's trial and that, through his attorney, has already requested to speak at Neal's sentencing, if he is convicted.