Jurors heard testimony from eight witnesses Tuesday on the first day of trial for a College Station man accused of killing a Blinn College Student at a party in May 2015.
Ronald Wayne McNeil, 42, is on trial for killing Lacie LaRose at a College Station college graduation party at a house in the 900 block of San Benito Drive on May 3, 2015. According to an arrest report, McNeil is accused of shooting three people after an argument at the party, killing the 19-year-old LaRose and injuring Bill Macallister and Dustin Green.
The report states that witnesses told authorities that two men left the party after an altercation and returned with a firearm. McNeil reportedly fired multiple rounds into the crowded backyard. According to the report, a College Station detective interviewed Charles Williams Jr., one of the men who fled the shooting. Williams said he and McNeil had been invited to the party and that the two men had been called racial slurs and physically assaulted by one of the partygoers. According to the arrest report, Williams told officers he and McNeil had been walking on the house's east side when he heard gunshots coming from his right side, where McNeil had been walking.
In his opening statement Tuesday morning, Matthew Brown, McNeil's attorney, said McNeil had been invited to the party by a neighbor and had congratulated the man who had just graduated after he arrived. After an altercation while playing beer pong, Brown told jurors, a partygoer punched Williams in the face.
"Following that punch, Mr. McNeil was calm and cool," Brown said.
Brown said after the gunshots rang out, "drunk college students" attending the party went for their guns instead of calling the police; none of those students who fled the shooting were tested for gunshot residue, Brown said, and many of them were released without further questioning by police.
Kendall Crowns, Travis County deputy medical examiner, testified Tuesday that LaRose died of a gunshot wound to the back.
The death of 19-year-old Blinn College student Lacie LaRose at a graduation party last month was the result of an argument that began over a g…
Raul Ramirez, a Marine who saw combat in Afghanistan and who had been at the party that night, testified that he heard five or six gunshots from what sounded like the same weapon. Ramirez helped administer CPR to LaRose when she was brought into the garage.
"It looked pretty tough for her to make it," Ramirez testified. "On a wound, something like that, there's not a whole lot you can do."
Andrew Cangelosi, another former Blinn student who attended the party, said on that night he heard three loud pops that he thought were fireworks, then turned around and saw a muzzle flash, knowing that they were gunshots because of his experience with firearms. Cangelosi said he was not hit as he crawled into the garage.
Steven Taylor, sergeant with the College Station Police Department, said the scene of the shooting was "absolute chaos" when he arrived, as men and women, some of whom appeared to be in shock, were screaming outside the house. Taylor said he had assisted in pulling over the white truck driven by McNeil before he ran down the street to the scene of the shooting, eventually telling the fire department the extent of LaRose's serious injuries so she had priority over the other shooting victims.
If convicted of killing LaRose, McNeil faces between 15 years and life in prison, an enhanced minimum punishment because of a previous felony conviction. He has been held in the Brazos County Jail on a combined $500,000 bond since his arrest on May 3, 2015, according to jail records.
The trial resumes at 8:30 this morning in 85th District Court Judge Kyle Hawthorne's courtroom at the Brazos County courthouse.