Wilson community helps raise money for John McNeil - WNCN: News, Weather

Wilson community helps raise money for John McNeil

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© Eileen Park - WNCN © Eileen Park - WNCN
WILSON, N.C. -

A Wilson man hopes to rebuild his life after almost seven years in a Georgia jail and shared for the first time how he plans on clearing his name.  

John McNeil, 46, was convicted of murder in 2005 for shooting a contractor at his Georgia home. McNeil said he's innocent and that it was in self-defense. Now he's back home with family in Wilson and has the support of a growing community of supporters.

At St. Paul's Church in Wilson, a crowd of hundreds gathered Sunday to meet John McNeil and to help him get back on his feet financially.

"To see the people show love the way that they have, I had no idea it was going to be this good," said McNeil.

Surrounded by friends, family and supporters, McNeil said the money raised today at the church will help rebuild his life.

"It's going towards getting a home, getting an automobile, it will be put to use for that use, nothing else," he said.

While McNeil was in jail, both his mother and wife passed away. He tells WNCN that now he wants justice. At Sunday's service, McNeil looked comfortable at the pulpit telling supporters that his fight to clear his name is not over.

Supported by NAACP State President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II as well as the Wilson community, McNeil said he wants to pursue a law degree to fix what he calls a broken judicial system.

The 46-year-old plead guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter to get out of jail faster to help his wife who was suffering from breast cancer. Now with the help of the NAACP, he is building a legal strategy to get exonerated.

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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