As Reported in the Riverside-Enterprise – Saturday, October 31, 1936
John D. M’Neill to Pay Penalty for Killing of Wife at Temecula
A jury of nine women and three men last night decreed that John D. McNeill of Temecula must forfeit his life on the San Quentin gallows for bludgeoning to death his wife, Mr. Melvey McNeill in their Temecula home on August 13 last.
At 11:15 p.m., almost six hours after they had retired for deliberations, the solemn-faced jurors filed back into Superior Judge O.K. Morton’s courtroom and gave to him the verdict requiring the state to execute the defendant.
It was a verdict finding the defendant “guilt of the charge in the indictment” – a verdict without a recommendation, making it mandatory upon Judge Morton that he impose a death sentence upon the 52 year-old blacksmith and township deputy constable.
The judge set the time of sentence for 10 a.m., Nov. 4 and ordered the defendant remanded to the custody of the sheriff.
McNeill failed to rouse himself from his seeming indifference to the court proceedings even as Court Clerk W. G. Waite intoned the words of the verdict that, barring a reversal on automatic appeal required under the state law, will send McNeill to his doom at the penitentiary at a date to be fixed later by the court. He sat slumped in the defendant’s chair, his head leaning slightly in his left hand. He did not look at the jurors. Me maintained this dejected pose almost without interruption throughout the trail except for an occasional brief whispered conversation with his attorneys, Russell S. Waite and John G. Neblett who conducted the eight day trial under appointment by Judge Morton to defend McNeill.
The jurors faces appeared drawn and tired as they sat in the jury box during the brief proceedings that followed their return to the courtroom. They plainly showed the stress and strain of the six hours deliberations with a man’s life at stake.
Impassioned appeals to the jury by both prosecution and defense marked the closing hours of the trial. Dist. Atty. Earl Redwine asked the death penalty in a fervent address to the jurors at the close of the day.
Deputy Dist. Atty. John G. Gabbert who assisted in the preparation of the case and was associated with the district attorney in the trial, made the opening address for the state, chiefly summing up the evidence.
Attorneys Russell S. Waite and John G. Neblett for the defense declared McNeill acted in self defense in making the fatal attack.