Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) issued the following statement regarding the release of Wilson, N.C. native John McNeil from a Georgia prison today:
"As a former judge and Wilson native, I have closely followed the John McNeil case. While many are disappointed McNeil's conviction was not overturned based on self-defense, today he can at least return home, rejoin his family, and attempt to pick up the pieces of his broken life. Although bittersweet, McNeil's release from prison is a direct result of the Wilson Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which convinced the national office to lead this fight. On the 104thanniversary of its founding, I applaud the NAACP for its tireless and unwavering advocacy on behalf of men and women of color nationwide. I continue to be grateful to the NAACP for the critically important work it completes."
In 2006, McNeil was convicted of shooting Brian Epp, who trespassed on McNeil's property, threatened his family with a box cutter, and charged at McNeil with the same weapon in his pocket. At the time of the shooting, investigating officers concluded that McNeil did not commit a crime. However, a year later McNeil was charged with murder and subsequently sentenced to life in prison. McNeil was released today after agreeing to a plea bargain.