NAACP Condemns Decision to Appeal John McNeil’s Habeas Corpus Petition

NAACP leaders strongly condemned the decision by Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens to appeal the court ruling that granted John McNeil’s habeas corpus petition. 

On September, 25th, a Georgia Superior Court Judge granted McNeil’s petition for habeas corpus based on ineffective counsel, noting that,  among other things, John’s trial attorney, “failed to request charges based on the theories of defense of habitation and/or defense of property.” 

Attorney General Olens had until October 26 to appeal the court’s decision. The NAACP recently sent out a petition urging Olens not to pursue an appeal; the petition already has over 18,000 signatures. 

“John McNeil’s six-year-long nightmare should have ended this month,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “This appeal is a shameful attempt to stoke the flames of a case that should have never been opened in the first place. A man has a right to defend his family. The NAACP will continue to work with Anita McNeil and our allies to secure John McNeil’s freedom.”

“We are severely disappointed that the Attorney General Olens appealed this case,” stated NAACP Georgia State Conference President Edward Dubose. “We pledge to fight this case until John McNeil is free.” 

“As we pray for John and Anita we must continue to press forward,” stated NAACP North Carolina State Conference President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. “We had hoped Attorney General Olens would have decided to stand down. Now we are hopeful that the Supreme Court in its wisdom will heed the new evidence before them and stand up.” 

In 2006, John McNeil was convicted for shooting Brian Epp on his property after Mr. Epp threatened his son with a knife and charged at John.  The investigating officers concluded that McNeil did not commit a crime, but 294 days after the incident McNeil was charged with murder and sentenced to life in prison. His wife, Anita McNeil, has developed cancer and, until recently,  had been unable to visit her husband. 

The NAACP and other groups have been deeply involved in the case for years. Last month an NAACP delegation met with John and prison officials.

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