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