NAACP president joins local protest of imprisoned man
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@mdjonline.com
August 25, 2011 12:48 AM | 5347 views | 28 28 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NAACP President Todd Jealous addresses a rally in Marietta in support of John McNeil, who Jealous says was wrongly convicted in the 2005 killing of Brian Epp.<br>Staff/Marcus Howard
NAACP President Todd Jealous addresses a rally in Marietta in support of John McNeil, who Jealous says was wrongly convicted in the 2005 killing of Brian Epp.
Staff/Marcus Howard
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MARIETTA — National NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous joined other organization officials and the wife of John McNeil in a rally Wednesday to address McNeil’s conviction in the shooting death of Brian Epp in December 2005.

Jealous got the civil rights organization’s national office involved in the case because the court of law failed McNeil and it’s time to take the case before the court of public opinion, he said. An appeal will eventually be made to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, he said.

The NAACP’s office in North Carolina, where the McNeil family is from, has already been working on the case.

“John has exhausted his avenues in court, and it’s time for the state of Georgia to act,” Jealous said. “The Board of Pardons and Paroles have their powers, and governors have their responsibilities.”

Jealous was joined on the steps of the old Cobb Superior Courthouse by Georgia NAACP President Edward DuBose, North Carolina NAACP President the Rev. Dr. William Barber, Cobb NAACP President Deane Bonner and supporters of the McNeil family.

On Nov. 8, 2006, a Cobb jury found McNeil guilty of felony murder and aggravated assault in the death of Epp, a west Cobb homebuilder. Superior Court Judge Dorothy Robinson sentenced him to life in prison, with eligibility for parole after 14 years.

On Nov. 3, 2008, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the jury’s verdict in a 6-1 decision. Then-Chief Justice Leah Sears was the lone dissenter.

Barber and others at the rally said Cobb District Attorney Pat Head’s decision to prosecute McNeil was politically motivated, particularly in light of the fact that the lead investigator did not arrest McNeil. “John McNeil was not prosecuted according to law, he was prosecuted according to politics and his race,” Barber said.

Head disputed that race played any role in McNeil’s prosecution on Wednesday. Though Sears wrote a dissent, two other black members of the state Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, he said.

“The case was tried before a jury, and they believed he intentionally caused the death of an unarmed man,” Head said.

“There was a knife, but it was in the victim’s pocket. He didn’t put it back in his pocket after he was shot. That was the only other weapon found besides McNeil’s pistol.”

McNeil’s wife, Anita McNeil, who now lives in Wilson, N.C., said her husband had every right to defend himself against Epp, who had first threatened one of her sons before her husband arrived at the scene, according to court records.

“We lived in this community, we worked in this community, we went to church in this community, we volunteered in this community,” said Anita, whose two sons, McEachern High School graduates, are now 25 and 26.

“I stand for John, my husband, a very loving, kind, passionate, giving person. I stand for my sons and my family. I will continue to stand and I won’t give up because it’s that foundation that John believed in. I will continue to stand until we have justice and freedom for John.”

The case stems from a confrontation between Epp and McNeil in the driveway of McNeil’s Kennesaw home on Dec. 6, 2005. Epp got into an argument over unfinished work he was doing for McNeil. McNeil shot Epp once in the head with a 9mm handgun, an action he claimed was taken in self-defense when Epp charged at him with a knife.

Cobb police, who arrived at the home shortly after the shooting, pronounced Epp dead at the scene. Both police and the county medical examiner said Epp was not armed when he was shot. A utility knife the homebuilder carried remained clipped to his pocket.

McNeil is black and Epp was white.

McNeil is serving his sentence in the Hancock State Prison, a close security facility in Sparta.
Comments
(28)
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MAY-RETTA SURVIVOR
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August 27, 2011
I'm wondering just how much longer it will be before the NAACP becomes the well-earned Punch Line for jokes. The fact is that they have well-outlived their time and, at present, are now reduced to Picking Up The Crumbs for attention. Does anyone here even take them seriously anymore?

They have outsourced their time, relevance and welcome.
anonymous
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August 26, 2011
How many of you are aware of the fact that according the eye witness Epp came from next door onto Mcneils yard with Mcniel retreating beggihg him not to come any closer because he did not want to hurt him even fired a shot into ground.Epp continued to advance closing the distance then sped up and was within two and a half feet when the fatal shot was fied.In the civil trial Epp vs McNeil,McNeil was found not guilty.

MAN IN THE MIRROW
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August 26, 2011
knowledge is power....fact:epp tresspassed fact:epp threaten son with a boxed cutter blade fact:john mcneil backed up-per testimony of bobby smith for state-yelling dont come closer, get off my property, i called the police, FACT EPP THREATEN MCNEILS LIFE.... fact- there was a warning shot and epp charged mcneil, mcneil was at home, epp WAS NOT WORKING FOR MCNEIL, EPP WAS NOT FRIENDS WITH MCNEIL- WHAT IF YOU WAS MCNEIL? KNOWLEDGE MAKES ONE LOOK LESS STUPID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
anonymous
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August 26, 2011
John Mcneal is a murderer. His son is a lier, he admitted it in court. He lied for his dad to protect his dad who had anger and shot someone right in the face. BRIAN EPP Has 2 small kids and a wife the man JOHN should never get out of jail he is a threat to anyone who comes in his path and does not like he will shoot you and kill you the NWACP need to look at the facts. ROT IN JAIL.
George Jackson
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August 25, 2011
It is obvious that the only thing that you know about this case is what you have read in the newspaper. Did you hear the case?? So before you speak, take the time to read the case and be well informed, then make your judgment. It is obvious that 90% of you have not read the case and do not know any of the facts regarding the case. What would you have done if your son had called you and told you he had been threatened (in your yard) by a person with a knife????? Why did the Police Dept of Cobb County advise the DA not to charge McNeil???? Read Bobby Smith's testimony????
anonymous
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August 25, 2011
How do you prosecute someone according to their race? I am so tired of stupidity.
Miss Owens
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August 25, 2011
and speaking of casey anthony...how can the world even talk about a justice system if casey anthony can go free???? If she can get away with murder clearly someone black/white can get off of a self defense case.
Miss Owens
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August 25, 2011
Ok so i cant believe people are on here bashing the NAACP like this. "Race Card" Clearly racism exist look at these comments. Someone stated that blacks need to stop fathering children by all these different women...can u say ignorant. what does that have to do with the case? White people kill me. "they" think someone owe them things. It's like people are supposed to bow down to them. I know racism still exist just being a black women living in society. Now of course there are some exceptions...but give me a break.
maylib
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August 25, 2011
I think the NAACP is off-base here but, I sure hope all those people are using the example of a successfully trial by jury and a failed appeal as proof this man is guilty were this adamant when OJ and Casey were acquitted by that same system.
A Taxpayer
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August 25, 2011
This is just one more debacle in the history of the NAACP. They make divisions where there are none. And they defend murderers. If you shoot a guy in the head with a 9mm, you need to be in jail. Which is exactly where this lowlife scumbag the NAACP wants freed is now.
TRUTH HURTS
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August 25, 2011
NAACP, ALSO NOW AS RACIST!
Perplexed
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August 25, 2011
Has anyone ever seen a race card? It gets played a lot but I've never seen one! The defendant in this case is where he needs to be. Unfortunately, he sealed his fate on the 911 call when he made it clear his intentions upon arriving home. His manhood probably got challenged and the testosterone factor was not going to let the victim leave without a confrontation. The prisons are full of men who let their temper get in the way of rational decision making. Young men need to take note of this case and how many lives are forever changed. I just hope his kids and wife can move forward with their lives.
tim Prince
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August 25, 2011
What is even sadder - is that THIS MADE THE NEWS!

SO what if the NAACP is upset!
S.A.M.
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August 25, 2011
And one more thing, let's not forget the lies that the McNeil's son admitted to under cross examination.
S.A.M.
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August 25, 2011
This case is about as black and white as it gets but not in a racially motivated way. Mr. McNeil was found guilty by 12 people of mixed races. This case is about a man who told a 911 operator that he was going to "beat his [Epp's] *%$". Instead of beating Epp, he shot him in the face; ensuring that Brian's friends and family would never be able to see his face again. It is about Mr. McNeil's inability to control his anger. What I truly will never understand, why would Mr. McNeil not wait on the police who were only minutes away.
Dustoff
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August 25, 2011
If the victim would have been black also the NAACP would have never raised their voice.

The need to quit playing the race card, its old news, what the need to do is start going after their own who father multiple children by various women and help get the kids the support they need and step up and be parents.

Could you imagine the hell raised if the was a NAAWP.
yo wasup
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August 25, 2011
Brica,

Before you ask that question you SHOULD ask, "Has anyone here seen or know the stats of crimes commited by BLACKS VERSES crimes committed by WHITE,Maybe you need to know this before you say too much more.

Larietta
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August 25, 2011
This story confounds me. How does someone claim self defense when there was no visible weapon posing immediate danger to the other person? What is even more disturbing is that the NAACP ignores this fact. They are only thinking of color and nothing else. Deane Bonner once called me a "Cracker" to my face in front of many witnesses. Talk about someone who is completely unprofessional. The last time I checked, the 64-count crayola crayon box contained all different colors including brown and flesh tones. It's about time the NAACP defends the rights of EVERYONE, not just those of darker skin color. If they want to see racism in America, all they need do is look in the mirror.
MAY-RETTA SURVIVOR
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August 25, 2011
"Bewnjamin Todd JEALOUS"?! Shakespeare said it best: "What's in a name?"
brica
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August 25, 2011
Has anyone here seen or know the stats of Heard,the DA on his cases BLACKS VERSES WHITE situations,Maybe you need to know this before you say too much more.
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