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.

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

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