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.