Lacie LaRose

Lacie LaRose

A 39-year-old College Station man charged with the May 3 shooting death of a Blinn College student pleaded not guilty to four felony charges Wednesday afternoon in a Brazos County courtroom.

Ronald Wayne McNeil and Houston-based defense attorney Vivian King entered the pleas in Judge Glynis Gore's 85th District courtroom. McNeil faces a murder charge, two aggravated assault charges and one count of discharging a weapon in public.

McNeil, who has been in the Brazos County Jail since his arrest May 3, didn't speak during the trial, according to victim Lacie LaRose's grandparents, who attended the hearing.

LaRose's mother, April Hollinghead LaRose, said she was shaken by the news of McNeil's plea.

"I think he should be charged with lying under oath," LaRose wrote in a Facebook message, adding "this is really eating us all up. It's killing us that we have to fight to get him put away. ... He needs the death penalty; that is what he gave my (precious) little girl."

McNeil isn't the only one being charged in the incident.

Landon Duke, a Texas A&M graduate and guest of honor at the May party on the 900 block of San Benito in south College Station, turned himself into police Aug. 3 in connection with assault charges stemming from a fight that started before the shooting.

According to jail records, McNeil lived across the street from where the graduation party was taking place.

Duke told The Eagle in May that McNeil and a few of his friends attended the party to watch the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao boxing match. Later that evening, after most of the guests had left, Duke said McNeil's friends got into an argument with some of the college-aged men over a game of beer pong. Duke said the argument got heated and he joined his guests in asking McNeil and his friends to leave. Duke told a reporter McNeil and his friends resisted and Duke admitted to punching one of McNeil's friends hard enough to knock him on the ground.

College Station police wrote in a report that witnesses say they saw McNeil and his friends leave the residence for a few minutes before McNeil allegedly returned with a semi-automatic handgun and open fire in the backyard. Police said LaRose, 19, was hit in the neck and later died at a College Station hospital. Two other men were injured in the shooting. A bullet was recovered from the wall of a neighbor's home behind where the shooting took place, according to a police report.

Duke, who moved to Houston after graduation, turned himself into Brazos County authorities Aug. 3 and was released the same day on $5,000 bail. He is facing a misdemeanor charge of assault.

McNeil, who has not been charged with capital murder, will not face the death penalty if convicted. He does face a maximum sentence of life behind bars.

A hearing has been set for Oct. 7.

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(12) comments

prairiegirl

The cops should have just shot this murderer instead of arresting him. It would have saved us taxpayers a ton of money.

roy g

Because we don't need no steenkin' Constitutional protections or due process.

John Jacob jingle Heimer Smith

Capital murder could be that he was in the commission of a felony while committing murder which he was in possession of a firearm making it a felony while committing another felony, retaliation could also be considered it was retaliation in itself , death is too easy for these guys ..let them suffer he** on earth , I mean something is going on when you have death row inmates pushing for their death sentences to be carried out as quick as possible.Not a fan of death either way, loss of life for any reason is wrong and as bad as I want some of these guys gone my human morality stands. Condolences to Lacies family, nothing not even the death of this man will ever fill that void. Senseless once again.

BONNIE WINNER

Not sure what is required to charge with capital murder and get death penalty into play but should be charged if eligible. Then let him plea for life without parole and no appeals or try to get him executed. Just my thoughts.

roy g

While capital murder does seem like a just charge for the crime committed, it could not be used based on the definition in Chapter 19 of the Texas Penal Code (criminal homicide). To justify a capital murder charge, the prosecution would have to prove the following:

A person commits an offense if the person commits murder as defined under Section 19.02(b)(1) and:

(2) the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat under Section 22.07(a)(1), (3), (4), (5), or (6)

There are several other qualifiers for capital murder but none of them apply in this case. The only possible way to charge capital murder would be to prove that McNeil directly targeted LaRose in retaliation for his ejection from the party. Since he was firing randomly, that's pretty much ruled out. The only charge left is murder:

Sec 19.02 (b) A person commits an offense if he:

(1) intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual;

(2) intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual

roy g

While capital murder does seem like a just charge for the crime committed, it could not be used based on the definition in Chapter 19 of the Texas Penal Code (criminal homicide). To justify a capital murder charge, the prosecution would have to prove the following:

A person commits an offense if the person commits murder as defined under Section 19.02(b)(1) and:

(2) the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat under Section 22.07(a)(1), (3), (4), (5), or (6)

There are several other qualifiers for capital murder but none of them apply in this case. The only possible way to charge capital murder would be to prove that McNeil directly targeted LaRose in retaliation for his ejection from the party. Since he was firing randomly, that's pretty much ruled out. The only charge left is murder:

Sec 19.02 (b) A person commits an offense if he:

(1) intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual;

(2) intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual

Terri Wren

How can he plead "NOT" guilty when he clearly shot and KILLED Lacie? All we can hope for is that he get LIFE in prison without the possibility of parole since the death penalty is not an option but death was the only option he gave Lacie. Of course he was a felon with a handgun in his possession. Who is paying for his attorney OUT OF HOUSTON? I'm sure the tax payers of Bryan College Station. This low life will receive adequate representation while he left Lacie on the floor to die. I vote that he should receive the same punishment that he handed out to her. DEATH!!!!

roy g

By pleading "not guilty", he'll get a jury trial. Finding him guilty would be pretty much open and shut. The key is the punishment phase. Since McNeil was angry about the fight and being ejected from the party, I'd guess his attorney will try to use the "sudden passion" defense to get him a lesser sentence:

Sec. 19.02. MURDER. (d) At the punishment stage of a trial, the defendant may raise the issue as to whether he caused the death under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause. If the defendant proves the issue in the affirmative by a preponderance of the evidence, the offense is a felony of the second degree

A 1st degree felony is punishable by either life in prison or a sentence of between 5 and 99 years, with an optional fine of not more that $10,000. A successful bid to knock his charge down to a 2nd degree felony would result in a prison term of between 2 and 20 years with an optional fine of not more than $10,000.

So you see, his attorney knows that a guilty plea could get McNeil up to 99 years or life in prison. I'd say he's throwing the dice, knowing he'll be found guilty at trial, but betting on a sentence of under 20 years.

anneis

Didn't this creep "invite" himself to the party then tried to takeover? Will black killing white be a "hate crime" or a booze party misunderstanding for which McNeil was non-responsible?

roy g

Got to keep your white privilege buffed and shiny, huh?

prairiegirl

No, and there wasn't any looting and burning after Lacie was murdered in cold blood. Wonder why....

roy g

Maybe because neither she nor her ancestors had to live in this country for centuries under a system of institutionalized servitude, treatment as property, perception of worth as only a venue for labor or entertainment, viewed as second class citizens regardless of efforts, or having to live with people like you who seem to believe that racism and bigotry in this country are "cured" and everyone can now sit around campfires singing Kumbaya.

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