M’Neill Murder Trial Nears End As Testimony Almost Concluded

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise – Friday, October 30, 1936 

Temecula Blacksmith, Peace Officer Accused of Killing Own Wife, Again on Witness Stand; Scientific Facts Given by Psychiatrists 

With one part of his defense hard hit by the testimony of three celebrated psychiatrists, John D. McNeill, Temecula peace officer, last night believed to be within 24 hours of the time when his fate on a murder charge growing out of his wife’s violent death will be placed in the hands of the superior court jury. 

It appeared likely the case will be given to the nine women and three men in Superior Judge O.K. Morton’s courtroom late today.  The defense surprised courtroom observers when it case was rested after McNeill testified.  When court adjourned at 5 p.m., the prosecution was in the midst of rebuttal testimony. 

All three of the noted alienists – Dr. Victor Parkin, Dr. Fletcher Van Meter and Dr. Leo J. Adelstein – were called as rebuttal witnesses as the district attorney sought to disprove McNeill’s claim that he suffered a lapse of memory for the few minutes period in which his wife, Mrs. Melvey McNeill was beaten to death in the kitchen of their Temecula residence. 

Each of the expert witnesses testified that, in his opinion, McNeill is professing “pseudo-amnesia” and merely feigning loss of memory for the period in which the state charges he dealt fatal blows upon his wife’s head and body with hard-rubber rollers from a washing machine wringer. 

Each of the psychiatrists declared that McNeill’s memory for insignificant incidents occurring before and after the death struggle make his claim of loss of memory incredible.  Dr. Parkin declared that McNeill by his own statement disclosed he had a ‘guilty conscience” when he showed fear of his son, Johnny, when the latter declared he would kill the man who had beaten his mother.  He said this proved McNeill remembered the incidents of the period which he has left blank in his account of the tragedy. 

Defense Cross Examines

 Defense Attorneys Russell B. Waite and John Neblett cross-examined each witness closely on the possibility that McNeill has lost his powers of recollection of the incidents in those harrowing minutes of the struggle, perhaps due to the tremendous stress and excitement.  The witnesses said extreme excitement can produce confusion and poor recollection “but not true amnesia”.  The defense counsel pressed their point about loss of recollection, steering away from a claim of straight amnesia. 

During re-direct testimony under questioning by Attorney Neblett, the defendant made a half-way admission that he dealt the blows that brought death to his wife.

Near the close of questioning the attorney suddenly said: “Mr. McNeill you don’t deny you caused the wounds to your wife, do you?” 

“No”, came the answer in a hoarse whisper. 

“And you don’t deny that you have probably caused those wounds?”  Again he replied negatively. 

“And you don’t deny that you were the one who put your wife’s glasses on the sink and pulled out the drawers in the bureaus?” 

“No,” he said. 

Defendant Examined

At this juncture the defendant was turned over to the prosecution for re-cross examination. 

McNeill was the one witness in his behalf.  He was called to the stand Wednesday afternoon and his attorneys completed their direct examination early yesterday afternoon.  Dist. Atty. Redwine cross-examined for about half an hour, bringing out no new details about the defendant’s version of the tragedy.  He had testified that when he arrived at his home his wife was in an ugly mood over an insurance policy payment and threatened to kill him with a revolver. 

He said he picked up a wringer roller and threw it at her.  It hit her head.  He threw another and it struck her in the stomach.  She dropped the gun and came toward him.  He grappled with her, he said, and there his mind became a blank.  He remembered nothing until he “came to” as he stood in the yard.

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Published in: on February 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

M’Neill Gives Testimony In Own Defense

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise – Thursday, October 29, 1936 

Defendant on Trail as Wife-Murderer Tells Of Fatal Event 

Claiming he acted in self-defense, John D. McNeill, Temecula blacksmith, yesterday admitted to a superior court jury here part of the deadly beating of his wife in their Temecula home on August 13, 1936, but could not remember administering the fatal blows because of a lapse of memory. 

McNeill, on trail for murder, told the jury he remembers throwing washing-machine wringer rollers at his wife when as he related, she threatened him with a gun.  But he declared he suffered a sudden stroke of amnesia at the point where the state claims he beat his wife fatally with one of the rollers. 

Pathetic Picture 

The defendant, who presented a pathetic figure as he gave the harrowing account of the tragedy, recounted his story under questioning by Defense Attorneys John Neblett and Russell S. Waite in Superior Judge O.K. Morton’s courtroom. 

Called to the witness stand as the first defense witness after Dist. Atty. Earl Redwine had rested the prosecution, McNeill presented in detail his accounts of the events leading up to the fatal beating. 

He said he went to his home about 12:30 p.m. after having obtained gasoline at the Smull garage in Temecula.  He carried the fuel home in a small red, gallon can which already has been introduced into evidence by the prosecutor. 

Says Was Threatened

 As he stepped into the house, he faced Mrs. McNeill who had his own service revolver leveled at him and was threatening to shoot him, he said. 

Believing his life was in danger, he picked up a washing-machine wringer roller lying on the wood box, he testified.  He said he hurled it at his wife and that it struck her in the stomach, but that she clung to the gun and continued to menace him with it. 

He then picked up the second roller, this time striking her in the head.  McNeill testified she dropped the gun and started toward him and that he started toward her. 

Memory Fails

 But there his memory suffered a lapse.  He said he remembered nothing more until sometime later he “came to” in the yard of the house. 

He testified he rushed into the house and found his wife lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor.  He fell to her side and grasped her in his arms, he said. 

Within a short time he heard his son, Johnny, coming home for lunch and ran to meet him.  He said he sent Johnny to obtain a doctor.  This testimony was in contradiction to the son’s testimony, the latter had said he alone thought of calling a doctor and the ambulance, and also had sent his father to notify officers. 

Evidence Presented

 One of the wringer roller is in evidence in the case.  It was smeared with blood when found by officers at the McNeill home. 

McNeill was still on the witness stand when the case adjourned last night and will continue his defense testimony today.  Following that he will be cross-examined by the prosecutor. 

Prior to the close of the state’s case, three witnesses were called by the prosecution during the morning session.  They were Mrs. Genevieve Ross, district attorney’s secretary who read shorthand notes of a statement by McNeill in which he denied the crime; Albert L. Kelley, district attorney’s investigator, who told of his investigation of the case, and Mrs. Fern Freeman who said all neighbors were absent on the day of the crime.

Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 10:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Boy Tells Of His Mother’s Tragic Death

As reported by the Riverside Enterprise – Wednesday, October 28, 1936 

Young McNeill Witness in Father’s Trial; Much Testimony Heard 

A parade of prosecution witnesses told a jury in Superior Judge O.K. Morton’s courtroom yesterday that John D. McNeill, Temecula blacksmith and township officer, admitted to them parts of the fatal attack upon his wife, Mrs. Melvey McNeill, at their home in Temecula on Aug. 13 last.  Among the witnesses were the 17-year-old son and a brother-in-law of the defendant. 

But in the same testimony the witnesses disclosed McNeill’s probable defense – that his wife had infuriated him to a savage rage by threatening him with his own service revolver, apparently in some kind of dispute over an insurance policy. 

Building Up Prosecution 

Regardless of the likely admission of the crime by the defendant on the ground of self-defense, District Attorney Earl Redwine continued carefully to reconstruct the slaying, through testimony, according to the way he believes it was committed.  All his evidence thus far has pointed to the defendant as the perpetrator of the slaying. 

Two scientists testified for the prosecution yesterday afternoon, each furnishing strong testimony against McNeill.  They were Ray Pinker, noted chemist and scientific investigator of the Los Angeles police department, and Dr. Leo J. Adelstein of Los Angeles, eminent amnesia expert. 

The parade of witnesses, whose testimony fitted in a sequential pattern, was started as the prosecutor called to the stand Joe Martin, brother of Mrs. McNeill, soon after Johnny McNeill, 17-year-old son of the ill-fated woman, had been cross-examined by the defense. 

Says McNeill Confessed 

Mr. Martin testified that McNeill confessed to him in the county jail here on Aug. 19, six days after the fatal beating, that he had attached his wife with rollers from a washing machine wringer.  During the previous six days McNeill had stoutly maintained that the crime was committed by prowlers. 

Seymer L. Cash, deputy county coroner and shorthand stenographer, was then called as a witness.  He testified that he accompanied three deputy sheriffs and McNeill to the McNeill home after the “confession” to Martin, and witnessed McNeill in a re-enactment of the slaying scene.  He took down the statements of McNeill as he related the tragic struggle to the officers. 

Through the testimony of Dr. Adelstein, the district attorney then presented further details of the fatal attack.  Dr. Adelstein testified he talked with McNeill in the county jail here and heard from him his story of the struggle that ended in Mrs. McNeill’s death. 

He said McNeill told him that his threatened him with a gun, that he threw a roller and struck her in the head; that he threw a second one that knocked her to the floor; that while she lay on the floor she abused him with foul language, and that he picked up one of the rollers in his right hand, held his wife with his left hand and then – but their McNeill claims his memory checked out on him, the doctor said.  The defendant told the specialist that he remembered nothing after that until he walked into the house a short time later and found Mrs. McNeill in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor. 

The district attorney did not question the witness as to the possible loss of memory by the defendant. 

Others Give Testimony

 Lloyd J. Boller, former deputy sheriff and now Palms Spring chief of police, testified as to parts of McNeill’s reenactment of the crime. 

Redwine played his “trump card” next as he called to the witness stand Ray Pinker, the police chemist expert to whom the prosecutor submitted most of the physical evidence of the case for examination recently. 

Pinker identified blood on the wringer rollers and elsewhere, but his most sensational testimony concerned overalls which McNeill is alleged to have been wearing on the day of the slaying.  The chemist declared his microscopic examination of the garment showed splotches of blood which, he said, had struck the cloth with force. 

Blood Stains Found 

He said also there were spots of blood which had struck the overalls at an angle ranging up from the floor.  Some of this blood, he said, was found under a small flap at the waist of the garment.  The blood was in such a  position as to prove it had shot up under the flap, he said. 

During his testimony early in the day, Johnny McNeill brought tears to the eyes of jurors and spectators as he described how his mother, dying from the horrible beating administered to her five hours earlier, recognized him as he stood by her bedside in the county hospital. 

Johnny had testified that when an ambulance arrived to take his mother to the hospital, he climbed into the rear of the vehicle and sat beside her on the trip to the hospital. 

Sat Beside Mother 

“Did she speak to you on the trip, Johnny?” the district attorney asked. 

 “No,” he replied. 

“After you arrived at the hospital did she recognize you?” 

“Yes.  She was lying on the cot at the hospital.  She opened her eyes and looked up at me.  Then she reached out her hand and took hold of my wrist.  She pulled me closer to the bed.  Then she pulled me down until my face was close to hers.” 

“Johnny, did your mother speak to you there?” the prosecutor asked. 

“Yes, she did,” was the slow reply. 

“Take the witness,” the prosecutor said turning to the defense attorneys. 

On Cross-Examination 

Defense Attorney Russell B. Waite launched into a cross-examination of the young witness. 

Earlier, in the direct testimony under questioning of the prosecutor, young McNeill was near the breaking point when the district attorney questioned him about blood he saw on the floor, sink and elsewhere in the kitchen of the McNeill home and found his mother mortally wounded, lying on the kitchen floor. 

He said he saw the blood on the floor, stove an sink. 

“Does your father wear glasses?’ the prosecutor asked. 

“Yes, he does,” the boy replied.  “Did you notice anything unusual about them on Aug. 13?” 

“Yes,” was the hesitating reply, “I saw a drop of blood on his glasses.” 

The youth’s voice broke, as he choked back the tears, but he regained control of himself as the next question was put to him. 

His answers to all questions were straightforward.  He revealed an excellent memory for details and for statements made to him at the tragic scene.

Published in: on February 9, 2011 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Son Witness In Trial of John M’Neill

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise – Saturday, October 24, 1936

Temecula Youth Recounts Scene After Mother Fatally Wounded 

With his court appearance frought with pathos and drama, 18-year old Johnny McNeill yesterday was called as a prosecution witness in the superior court trial of his father, Deputy Constable John D. McNeill of Temecula on a charge that he fatally beat his wife in their Temecula home last August. 

The youth was sent to the witness stand by Dist. Atty. Bart Redwine at 4 p.m. and he was in the midst of his testimony when the court adjourned until next Tuesday morning. 

Defendant is Stolid

 Throughout his son’s testimony McNeill showed no emotion.  He looked at the youth infrequently, and sat stolidly at the defense counsel table as the prosecutor drew from the boy through questions his account of how he helped his dying mother as she lay on the kitchen floor of the Temecula home, wounded on the head and body by frightful blows.

 He was the second state witness to testify that the defendant had sought to give the impression Mrs. McNeill was beaten by robbers. 

Johnny said he came home for lunch and was met at a creek bridge near his home by his father.  McNeill told his son that someone had beaten up Mrs. McNeill.  Together they raced to the house. 

Tells Dramatic Story

The courtroom was deathly quiet as the youth told of the horrible sight that confronted him when he stepped into the kitchen.

 “I saw that mother was badly hurt,” the boy said, his gaze fixed on the ceiling as though seeing anew the harrowing events of that hour. 

“She was having difficulty breathing, so I worked her arms and manipulated her chest to help her breathing, and she seemed to be more comfortable.”  he said. 

“Did she say anything to you before she was taken to the hospital?” the prosecutor asked. 

“No, she didn’t say a word,” the youth replied slowly. 

Youth Makes Threat

 His testimony reached a sensational climax when he was asked by the district attorney if he had said anything to his father about what he would to his mother’s assailant.

 “Yes, I did,” he said, as a bitter glint showed in his eyes.  “ I would if I ever found the guy who did it, I would kill him.”

 He did not look at his father as he snapped out the words.  His father lowered his eyes.

 Johnny said that when he entered the home he had seen his father’s revolver in a holster on the dining room table.  After he made the threat against the unknown attacker, his father moved the gun to a bureau on a sleeping porch, putting the holster in the bottom drawer, and covering the revolver with a scarf on top of the dresser.

The youth said he found the gun and cocked it to see if any shells had been fired.  All were intact, he said.  He testified that Dr. J.D. Jatton of Fallbrook, who testified Thursday as to conversations with McNeill soon after the crime was committed, told him he should not have touched the gun.

 To Resume Stand

 Young McNeill’s testimony will be continued Tuesday. 

Earlier in the day, Deputy Sheriff Paul Pierce, one of the sheriff’s officers in charge of the investigation, completed several hours of testimony during which physical evidence in the trial was entered. 

He identified bloody washing machine wringer rollers as those he had found in the McNeill home.  He also identified bloody towels, women’s garments and rags which he had found about the McNeill home after he arrived there with Deputy Sheriffs F.F. Labrum and C.B. Worcester.  Some of the garments had been secreted in various parts of the premises, he testified.  Several photographs also were introduced during his testimony.

 Other witnesses called during the day by the prosecutor, chiefly for the purpose of fixing the time of the crime, were Charles T. Thompson, Frank H. Hall, Evelyn Otto, Ethel Ware, H.D. Smohl, C.P. Jones, Carl Amos, Leo Roripaugh, and Joe Martin. 

It appeared likely that the prosecution will need parts of two more days to finish its case.

Published in: on February 9, 2011 at 10:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Brutality Of Woman Killer Told To Jury

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise – Friday, October 23, 1936

Mrs. McNeill Choked, Beaten, Physician Relates at Trial

That John D. McNeill, Temecula blacksmith, blamed robbers for the fatal beating of his wife in her home at Temecula on Aug. 13 last, was the testimony of a witness yesterday afternoon in Superior Judge O.K. Morton’s courtroom where McNeill is on trial for his wife’s murder.

The testimony, considered of great importance to the prosecution, was given the jurors by Dr. J.D.  Jatton of Fallbrook, the physician who gave emergency treatment of Mrs. McNeill before she was taken to the county hospital where she died five hours after the beating.

Describes Wounds

Testifying on direct-examination Dr. Jatton said he was called to the McNeill home and found Mrs. McNeill suffering from head and body injuries.  He described how he bandaged the wounds and prepared her for removal to the hospital.  He said Mr. McNeill and his son, Johnny, were present during most of the time he was caring for Mrs. McNeill.

“Did McNeill, Sr., offer any explanation for the situation that confronted you?” Dist. Atty. Earl Redwine asked the physician.  “Yes, he did.” the doctor replied.  “He said robbers must have entered his home and finding Mrs. McNeill in their way, beat her.  He then said, Come on in here and let me show you how they left the house.”

Rooms Upset

“He led the way into the bedrooms of the house, and pointed out that drawers of bureaus were pulled out and that a trunk was open, with its contents scattered on the floor.  He mentioned there was an insurance policy there but I did not look at it.  The contents of the drawers were not disturbed; the drawers were just pulled out varying distances.”

Asked if he saw a gun in the house, Dr. Jatton said the revolver belonging to McNeill, a deputy constable, was in the bottom drawer of a chest on a screen porch.  This is expected to be a major point of the case as in statements to officers McNeill has indicated his gun played a big part in the fatal struggle.

Dr. Jatton said Mrs. McNeill did not speak a word during the 40 minutes he was in the house.  He said McNeill asked him if he thought she ‘would get along all right.”

Says Woman Choked

That Mrs. McNeill was choked besides being beaten over the head and on her body, was indicated by the testimony of Dr. Jatton.  He said there were scraped marks on her throat that could have been made by fingers.  A froth on her lips was seen by him as evidence of strangulation.

The physician, testifying in his first criminal trial, was extremely cautious and deliberate with is answers, weighing his replies at great length.  Defense Attorneys John Neblett and Russell Waite dismissed him with but one question:  “Could the froth on Mrs. McNeill’s lips have resulted from the broken ribs which she suffered in the beating?”

Dr. Jatton said persons suffering from broken ribs “do not ordinarily have froth about their lips.”

Other Physician on Stand

Earlier in the day Dr. James Farrage, resident physician of the county hospital where Mrs. McNeill died, described her fatal injuries.

Enlarged photographs of the body were entered for identification by the prosecutor.  They were tacked to a large blackboard in view of the jury box and then Dr. Farrage, using a pointer, explained the fatal injuries.  Returning to the witness stand, he recounted the injuries disclosed by an autopsy performed the day following Mrs. McNeill’s death.  Most of the blows, which the state charges were dealt with hard rubber rollers from a washing machine ringer, were inflicted on the woman’s head, the doctor said.

The gruesome pictures remained on the blackboard, which stood within three feet of where the defendant sat quietly at the defense table.  He kept his eyes turned toward the floor, evading the sight of the photographs.  He appeared to take little interest in the proceedings.

Witnesses Are Excluded

Superior Judge O.K. Morton, in whose court the trial is underway, ordered all witnesses excluded from the courtroom as the trial opened.  Departure of the witnesses left nearly 40 spectators, most of them from the home community of the defendant still in the courtroom.

Other witnesses testifying during the afternoon were Undersheriff Stephen Lynch, Mrs. Hazel Boller, of the sheriff’s criminal identification department, and Deputy Sheriff Paul Pierce, one of the three sheriff’s officers making the investigation.

Published in: on February 7, 2011 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jury Chosen For Trial Of Temeculan

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise – Thursday, October 22, 1936

Nine Women Included in  List to Hear Testimony In Murder Case

Nine women and three men must decide the fate of John D. McNeill, Temecula officer, now on trial in superior court here charged with murdering his wife, Melvey, at their Temecula home last Aug. 13.

The jury was completed at 3:15 p.m. yesterday except for an alternate to be chosen after the court re-convenes at 10 a.m. today.  Six additional veniremen were ordered into court by Superior Judge O.K. Morton for today.  The alternate will serve as a ordinary juror but will not take part in the deliberations unless one of the talesmen is unable to attend the trial.

May Lock Up Jury

Whether the jury will be locked up during the duration of the trial is expected to be decided today by Judge Morton.  A motion to have the jurors placed in custody of the bailiff after the taking of the testimony is started was made by Defense Attorneys Russell S. Waite and John Neblett.  Dist. Atty. Earl Redwine did not oppose or approve the proposal and it was submitted to the court for decision.

The attorneys conducted one of the most meticulous examinations of prospective jurors heard in a criminal case here in years.  Questioning of the veniremen was started early Tuesday and ended only when the attorneys accepted the following 12 persons yesterday afternoon:  I.S. Kennedy, C. Mabel Gilman, Grace Long, Barbara Culver, Marie Bonnett, Ada Clark, Arthur W. Peters, E.J. Pollock, Florence Flaherty, Barbara Best, Alice Green and Hazel Stark.

Closely Quizzed

The prosecutor quizzed the prospective jurors closely on whether they had any compunctions against returning a death verdict, showing that the state will ask for the forfeiture of McNeill’s life.

In appeared probable yesterday that the case may last four or five days, extending the hearing into next week.  The state has subponeaed 60 witnesses and the defense is said to have summoned a large number.

Published in: on February 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Murder Trial Jury Will Be Plus-Feminine

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise – Wednesday, October 21, 1936

Women Outnumber Men on Tentative List for McNeill Hearing

Women will predominate on the jury that will try John D. McNeill, Temecula township officer, on a charge of wife murder, it was indicated late yesterday as attorneys neared acceptance of the 12 jurors, with 11 women and one man tentatively in the box.  The case will be resumed today.

The opposing counsel shifted the prospective jury lineup repeatedly during the day of questioning that developed extremely sharp quizzing of persons drawn from the regular panel of jurors for duty in the murder trial.

Searching Questions

Prosecution attorneys were particularly anxious to know the prospective talesmen’s attitude toward the death penalty, proving that McNeill’s life will be asked as a forfeit for that of his wife, Mrs. Melvey McNeill, who was beaten to death in her home at Temecula on Aug. 13 last.

Defense attorneys were equally anxious to definitely determine the stat of the jurors’ mind regarding circumstantial evidence, weight of a defendant’s testimony and their opinion of a man indicted by a grand jury.

Taking of testimony is expected to get underway today, with completion of the trial in sight for late Thursday or early Friday.

Prospective jurors in the box when adjournment was taken by Superior O.K. Morton last night were Lou Meriwether, Grace Long, W.H. Gish, Ada Clark, Florence Flaherty, Alice Green, Hazel Stark, Barbara Best, E. Lily Rohif, Maria Bonnett, Arthur W. Peters, and C. Mabel Gilman.

Published in: on February 6, 2011 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

M’Neill Case Opens Today In Jury Trial

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise – Tuesday, October 20, 1936

Insanity Plea Withdrawn By Temecula Man on Eve of Hearing

Whether John D. McNeill, Temecula blacksmith and township constable, was sane on the Aug. 13 date on which he is charged with having beaten his wife to death in their Temecula home, yesterday was eliminated as an issue on the eve of his trial for murder.

McNeill’s attorneys appeared before Judge O.K. Morton yesterday afternoon and withdrew his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, a companion plea to an ordinary ‘not guily’ plea which was allowed to remain before the court.

He will go to trial before a jury in Judge Morton’s court this morning.  In statements to officers he has indicated he will contend that he acted in self-defense.

Attorneys John Neblett and Russell S. Waite were appointed by the court to defend McNeill.

Published in: on February 6, 2011 at 1:27 am  Leave a Comment  

John McNeill, of Temecula, to Go To Trail Tuesday

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise – Sunday, October 18, 1936

John McNeill, Temecula blacksmith and deputy constable, charged with beating his wife to death in their Temecula home last August, begins a fight for his life as he goes to trial in the superior court there Tuesday.

McNeill has pleaded not guilty to the murder indictment returned by the county grand jury and filed a separate plea of  not guilty by reason of insanity.  He has indicted he will claim self-defense, alleging his wife attempted to shoot him and he struck her to disarm her.

Redwine to Prosecute

Dist. Atty. Earl Redwine will be in charge of the prosecution and Attorneys John Neblett and Russell Waite of Riverside, appointed by the court, will be the defense counsel.  Both have summoned long lists of witnesses.

Mrs. McNeill was beaten to death by someone using rollers from a washing machine ringer.

McNeill surrendered to officers soon afterward.  Authorities announced later he had made a partial confession of the crime but could not remember dealing blows that caused the death.  He also told the officers at that time his wife attempted to shoot him with his own gun and he was compelled to defend himself.

Published in: on February 6, 2011 at 1:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Mental Tests Important in M’Neill Case

As reported in the Riverside Enterprise – Thursday, October 1, 1936

Alienists Examine Man Held on Wife Killing Charge for Trial

Three alienists upon whose testimony probably will hinge a jury’s decision on the mental status of John McNeill, Temecula blacksmith and deputy constable, when he comus up for trial on Oct. 20 in the superior court on a wife murder charge, have made their preliminary examinations of the defendant in the county jail here, it was learned yesterday.

Two of the three members of the sanity commission are Dr. Phillip Corr and Dr. Wayland Ceon of Riverside.  The third is Dr. Fletcher Van Meter of the Norwalk state institute for the insane wo has testified in numerous criminal cases here.  They were appointed by Superior Judge O.K. Morton after McNeill entered the double plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.  A plea may be made by McNeill has been indicated.

If he is found not guilty in this trial he will be freed without further court hearings.  However, if he is found guilty he then must face a jury on the question of his sanity.  If he should be found sane he then would stand convicted of the murder of which he would have been previously found guilty.  If found insane, he would be committed to a state institution for the criminal insane.

McNeill was arrested after he fatally beat his wife, Mrs. Melvey McNeill in their home at Temecula.

Published in: on February 6, 2011 at 12:59 am  Leave a Comment