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Was fatal shooting murder or self-defense?
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Was fatal shooting murder or self-defense?
Mother says defendant shot armed intruders




MIDDLESEX — Two men in black ski masks jabbed a gun barrel in her son’s chest, Felecia McGee said. Now he’s facing a murder charge for taking one of their lives.

McGee contends 29-year-old Jerome Neal shot the men in self-defense when they turned up at his rural Johnston County home to rob him. Neal killed 18-year-old Darrick Hagans and wounded 19-year-old Kwami Jones in the Saturday night shooting, according to sheriff’s deputies.

"I just don’t want my son to be put out like he set out to kill somebody,” McGee said. "They came to his house to rob him and kill him, and it just went the other way.”

Deputies charged Neal with first-degree murder, attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon. McGee said the charges are baffling.

"It’s still a shock,” she said Monday afternoon. "I still don’t understand why. My son wouldn’t hurt nobody. He was not the type to start a confrontation. Anybody’s going to protect their home.”

Deputies were called to 431 Barnes Lake Road south of Middlesex around 7:55 p.m. McGee said her son was cooperative and told detectives he’d shot two armed intruders inside his mobile home.

"My son did not run,” she said. "He stood. He talked to the police. He helped them, gave them everything they needed.”

Authorities have said little about the Sunday shooting and have not disclosed a motive. Johnston County sheriff’s spokeswoman Tammy Amaon couldn’t be reached for comment late Monday afternoon.

District Attorney Susan Doyle’s office declined to answer questions. Doyle spokesman James E. Crayton said prosecutors do not comment on pending cases.

‘THEY BUM-RUSHED HIM’

Kieosha Jones said she, Chris Raper and another of Neal’s friends were visiting Neal at his home Saturday afternoon. When Raper went outside, she said two men in ski masks jumped out from beneath the mobile home’s raised wooden porch and accosted him.

"They told him to knock on the door,” Jones said. "They were tussling with him, trying to fight him. Somehow, he got away.”

Raper ran up the street to McGee’s home, which is also on Barnes Lake Road, to warn her that two men were after her son.

"He ran to my house and told me,” McGee recalled. "He said, ‘I promise you I don’t know what’s going on. They’re trying to rob Jerome.’ He said he wouldn’t knock.”

Jones, Neal and another friend were inside the home when they heard thumping on the front door some time later.

"Someone knocked on the door and (Neal) said, ‘Who is it?’ and nobody said nothing,” Jones said.

The door opened and Neal stepped forward. One of the men "put a gun in his chest,” Jones said. She ran from the room.

"It was like they bum-rushed him,” she said. "I ran to this bathroom right here and hid up under the toilet.”

Jones said Neal’s other friend ran out the back door. She didn’t witness the shooting, she said, but feared for Neal’s life as she hid in the bathroom.

"I just didn’t want to walk through and see Jerome on the floor,” she said. "It just happened so fast.”

CRIMINAL HISTORY

McGee and Jones don’t know how many gunshots were fired. They weren’t sure whether Hagans and Jones opened fire on Neal or whether they were shot with Neal’s gun or their own.

"He did have a gun,” McGee said. "He had gotten in some trouble and he wasn’t supposed to have one. But he hadn’t been in no trouble for over six years. He was trying to get himself back on track.”

Records show Neal served a six-month prison sentence in 2008 after being convicted of possession with intent to sell marijuana in Johnston County. He served probation on two counts of the same felony marijuana charge in 2005.

Neal has pending Johnston County charges of misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving while license revoked.

Neather Hagans nor Kwami Jones have been to prison, but both had pending criminal charges. Hagans had been accused of cocaine possession and sale, possession of a stolen gun, hit and run and reckless driving in Nash County.

Kwami Jones is charged with aiding and abetting armed robbery, breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering in Nash County.

Both men Neal is accused of shooting lived in or near Spring Hope, according to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office.

"If you didn’t come to his house, he wouldn’t have killed you,” McGee said. "My son was innocent because he was at his home in Johnston County. He didn’t go to Nash County.”

Neal had met at least one of the men at a car show, McGee said, but she didn’t believe they were more than casual acquaintances.

Though she believes the men attacked her son in his home, McGee said she is sorry for the grief and loss that Hagans’ family feels.

"I have pain for my child, but I have pain for the other family,” she said. "They’re getting ready to bury their son. It’s not a win-win situation for either mother.”

FIRST APPEARANCE

McGee drove to Smithfield on Monday for her son’s first appearance in Johnston County District Court. She said Neal looked despondent and sullen.

"His eyes were all baggy,” she said. "I know they’ve been crying. I was trying to hold up, but I couldn’t hold my tears back.”

McGee said the judge denied her son bond. He will remain in the Johnston County Jail in Smithfield until his next scheduled court appearance on Jan. 30.

Selma attorney Bob Denning was appointed to represent Neal, his mother said.

In 2011, North Carolina lawmakers passed a self-defense law based on the castle doctrine, a legal principle holding that residents can use deadly force to protect themselves or others on their property.

The law states that a person is justified in using lethal force if he or she has "a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”

McGee said her son was defending himself and his friends from armed intruders and should be shielded from prosecution under the state’s castle doctrine.

McGee said deputies investigating the shooting were polite and courteous, but didn’t give any indication that he could face a murder charge.

"I asked them, ‘Are y’all going to charge my son?’” McGee recalled. "And they said, ‘We are probably going to charge him for the gun because he is a felon.’”

Neal’s mother said she’d like detectives and prosecutors to explain why they decided to charge him with murder.

"A lot of stuff is just not adding up,” McGee said, "and I don’t think they’re giving my son a fair shake.”

corey@wilsontimes.com | 265-7821
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View Comments:Show/Hide(29 comments)
understanding said...

If the ones who judging jerome do their homework they will see that he is innocent.

Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 11:34 PM
Judge NOT said...

Exodus 21:23
But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life.........
Young black men are dying each day and jail for wrong and right reasons. However, no one can past judge because life is hard and everyone deserves to be presented in a fair matter. If you come looking for trouble, it can END with death when someone has to protect themselves. They also have pain of knowing they have taken a life.
All families are hurting! But murder and self defense are two difference things.

Friday, January 17, 2014 at 8:39 PM
SENDING A PRAYER!!! said...

PEOPLE SOMETIMES MAKE STUPID DECISIONS AND DUMB CHOICES THAT THEY DONT THINK OF WHAT THE OUTCOME COULD BE TO THE SITUATION. BUT ITS STILL NOT A REASON TO MAKE EITHER PERSON LOOK BAD IN THE SITUATION THATS NOT WHAT IT IS ABOUT ITS SUPPOSE TO BE ABOUT FINDING OUT THE TRUTH.IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THERE PAST,THIS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED NOW!!!JEROME IS A KIND,MAKE YOU LAUGH ALL THE TIME KIND OF GUY AND FOR ANYBODY THAT WAS PUT IN HIS SHOES OR SAW YOUR LIFE FLASH BEFORE YOUR EYES LIKE THIS MAN,PROBABLY WAS THINKING ABOUT KIDS NOT HAVING A FATHER ANY MAN WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME

Friday, January 17, 2014 at 8:42 AM
to: to concerned friend said...

Jerome IS a GOOD PERSON. Your are the one in denial. If someone busted in your door with a gun in your face and you had the chance to defend yourself with a gun and you shot that person, should you go to prison for a LONG TIME. THINK ABOUT THAT. MY PRAYERS GO OUT TO YOU AS WELL AS THE NEAL FAMILY.

Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 5:56 PM
I say said...

I don't think with his criminal history, he is a "good" person. He is a felon. However, he has the right to defend himself from home invasion. If the truth is in this article, this is what he did.

Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 12:55 PM
Old friend said...

I know jerome. He is NOT A THUG. jerome will help anyone out. I have seen him with my own eyes setp between a fight to say cool it guys no sence in this fighting. If he shot those guys it was because he had no other choice. I know even though he was defending his friend and himself he still is sorry he had to do it. Jerome is a good man and father as well. FREE JEROME. WE HAVE THE ROGHT TO DEFEND OURSELVES. IN OUR OWN HOME.

Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 9:02 AM Hopeful said...

ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE! It's a shame that 3 lives and 3 families have COMPLETELY CHANGED! Hopefully this can COMPLETELY CHANGE SOME LIVES! Praying for all families involved!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:32 PM To concerned friend said...

He was a good person? You seem to be in denial here. He does not need to be with his family and the justice system will do its job and send him to prison hopefully for a LONG time and that will be a couple more off the streets.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:09 PM Reality said...

Ok.....one my kids can't fit under the toilet....2 drug history. .what were they there for...could it have been a drug deal gone bad? You can't believe everything you hear or read. These people have a past criminal record. There is always more than one side. As for his drug past, he is just part of the reason. My children will be exposed to drugs sometime in their life. I do feel sorry for all the families involved but please Don't be so stupid to think this is ALL TRUTH!!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 3:04 PM Concerned Friend said...

This is clearly a self defense case! You people on here talking smack don't know what you are talking about! Jerome is a good person! He had the right to protect himself at HIS HOUSE!! These stupid little boys shouldn't be messing with grown people! Look at their criminal history...WOW! FREE JEROME!!! He needs to be with his family!! Think about what he is going through!! Prayers going out to the Neal n Stancil family!! GOD HAS HIS HANDS ON JEROME!! If the justice system does its job, Jerome will be home and the little boy who lived will be charged!! His daddy too!!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 2:10 PM wondering said...

Well my question is what where they robbing him of? And what did they take?...If they didnt get anything and they where running away why did he shoot?.. and why was a felon holding a gun? W What was the purpose? And how did she get under a toilet? Lol..If this article was written to make him look good..it sure has some crazy witnesses

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 12:29 PM LOVING OTHERS said...

Prayers goes out to both families! This is a sad situation but our young individuals need to look at this and learn from this; A real life situation that can happen based upon choices and the path of directions that are chosen. Young individuals please rethink the choices you make in life; family always feel the wrath of your choices: Joy, pain,laughter, and sorrow! Even if there are individuals who may feel as though family is not there, I am sure there is still someone who you know that cares and loves you! If you feel another way remember ALWAYS God!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 12:13 PM To BestFriend said...

If you read the article it says that Neal has charges for drug possession so that's where I based my comments on. Bottom line is he shouldn't have been wrapped up with these people and he wouldn't have had to worry about it. He is where he needs to be which is behind bars and hope he stays there.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 11:20 AM Friend: said...

I hate all this took place, but sometimes friends can be your worse enemy. Let's pray that t young man that did'nt die will come forth and tell t truth about t whole matter. Free Jerome!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 7:57 AM God's Child said...

Well I'm SCREAMING self-defense !!! Jerome is a good kind it person he never brung drama or harm to nobody he was the type of person if you needed something & he had it, you had it......them boys was WRONG they should've kept there butt's & there HOME TOWN like the old folks use to say "YOU GO LOOKING FOR TROUBLE YOU'LL FIND IT" & that's what them young boys did "LOOKING FOR TROUBLE" they should've been out here LOOKING FOR JOBS not "LURKING ON WHAT THE NEXTS MEN HAVE" & THIS ARTICLE

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 11:57 PM Citizen said...

When you have the intentions of going to someone's home to rob them with a gun, you should already know what the consequences could be. In this incident the victim Jerome Neal had every right to defend or protect himself from the intruders who violated not only his home but Jerome as well. Its really sad how some look at Jerome to be the bad guy or the murder when he was only protecting himself. What if you was in his shoes?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 9:53 PM my boy. said...

They should of thought twice about robing someone his past has nothing to do with people coming waving gums in your face free Roc....

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:37 PM reala said...

Regardless of his past, they came to do him harm and it went the other way. Free jerome. Arrest the real man

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 7:44 PM friend said...

They should of never went to his house. No matter what ppl might want to say.. if it was ur life or someone else's u would protect yourself ... I can understand the felon with firearm but murder 1 not so much.. cause he could of been the one dead he protected himself. Its very sad for both parents and I just pray for peace over the situation..

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 6:48 PM Truth said...

Being a felon does not make someone a bad person ! If you can read his felonies are drung charges , sometimes life gets hard and people have to do what best ,but in no way shape or from does it make him a bad person! This guy was at his house minding his buissness they came to his house ! It's so easy to point fingers when it's not you ! If people take one second to really Analize what happened what would you have done? It's really easy to label someone off black and white without knowing them ! Use as humans judge others when we have skeletons in our own closets ! Why get up hear and say negative things keep it to yourself His mother needs positive thoughts at this time !

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 6:18 PM L.M.A.O said...

I HID UNDER THE TOILET
WOW REALLY
TEACH ME THAT 1

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 5:11 PM questions said...

Why did a felon have a gun?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:10 PM questions said...

Why did he have a felony if he was such a good person?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:09 PM huh? said...

Does anyone one know what a comma, period or capital letter is?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 3:00 PM BestFriend said...

First off Thugs you must be some type of hater cause not once in this story did it say any thing about drugs so your comment and guess could of been kept to yourself i know jerome and that is not him.. he is the one of the nicest person u can meet always kept a smile on his face ... He did what was right he was protecting his self them boys should be out here getting jobs instead of trying to rob someone who works hard for there money... I have mad love for you friend and praying you get a fair trial and the truth speak for itself ... FREE JEROME NEAL

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 1:49 PM Thugs said...

If I had to guess they were there due to some sort of drug issue and even if they were there to hurt him and he killed them instead, if it was over a drug issue then he needs to be charged. He obviously has a history with drugs so get him off the street.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 9:43 AM FRIENDS: said...

I know Jerome Neal form high school he was a very quiet young man. Never heard of him getting into any trouble. This could have been the straw that open up the real man in him. Sometimes it's the company we keep that shows who we really are or have become. I hate he may never be in his kids life. He do have children that will be left behind. This do not look so good for our friend Jerome. No matter what your classmates will always LOVE U!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 9:23 AM concerned neighbor said...

i really feel compassion on both mothers and their families. But reading this I ask myself,,"What would (I-you) have done if someone tried to rob you with a gun in your face and you had a gun in your pocket. A Tick for a Tac. It's very hard to say what you will do if you have never been in this place. Let's not judge, but be prayful for the families. Of course we must pay for our crime. Life is not fair sometimes. The truth may not come out now. But God knows what happen, and He will pay for all the killings of His people that man is taking out of this world with GUNS!! WE NEED TO PRAY:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 9:00 AM Citzen said...

Sounds like self-defense to me...you come to rob me but it back fired on yourself...consequences is what it is....those boys should not have went to his home. Point Blank!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 8:57 AM
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