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  

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