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NAACP: Kennesaw Killing Was Self-Defense

A rally in Marietta calls for imprisoned John McNeil to be freed.

A Kennesaw man convicted of murder in 2006 acted in self-defense and shouldn't spend the rest of his life in prison, leaders of the NAACP said during a rally Wednesday morning in Marietta.

John McNeil shot Brian Epp, the builder of his Kennesaw home, after a shouting match in 2005.

McNeil said that Epp charged him with a knife and that he shot Epp in self-defense. 

Some of the evidence in the case showed that Epp’s knife was in his pocket after police discovered the body and that he never raised his hands with the knife.

Regardless of whose scenario you believe, McNeil was convicted in 2006 of killing Epp and sentenced to life in prison. He lost his appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, with one justice dissenting. 

Now the NAACP is asking that the case be re-examined.

The North Carolina and Georgia state conferences of the NAACP, in conjunction with the national organization, held a press conference and rally at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Marietta to support McNeil.

“Every father, every parent should be able to sleep soundly knowing they can defend their home. That is not the case today in Georgia,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said. 

The rally, held outside the old courthouse on Waddell Street downtown, drew media attention to what has become a racially charged case.

McNeil, a black man, was found guilty of aggravated assault and felony murder in the shooting death of Epp, a white man.

During the rally, organizers pushed for McNeil’s release and said his actions were a result of self-defense.

McNeil’s wife, Anita McNeil, spoke at the rally and said a female juror sent her a letter after the verdict saying she was “pressured into the decision.” McNeil wouldn’t reveal the juror’s identity.

Jealous, during his address, said McNeil wasn’t charged until 274 days after the incident, a time when was campaigning for governor.

Ed Dubose, the president of the Georgia NAACP Chapter, said the goal is to take the fight from the Georgia Supreme Court to the court of public opinion so Georgians understand the facts of the case.

Jealous directed supporters to the NAACP website, NAACP.org, to sign the petition for McNeil’s release. 

On the day of the shooting, McNeil’s son called him to say Epp was on their property threatening him. McNeil called the police to tell them he was rushing home and said Epp was there with a knife. 

When he arrived home, he told his son to go inside, and the argument with Epp ensued.

Mic I August 25, 2011 at 01:14 PM
How about talking to all of the witnesses, not just the ones on McNeil's side. Brian Epp was one of my husband's best friends, and this article is so biased I am having a hard time writing this comment because I'm so upset. "McNeil said that Epp charged him with a knife and that he shot Epp in self-defense. Some of the evidence in the case showed that Epp’s knife was in his pocket after police discovered the body and that he never raised his hands with the knife. Regardless of whose scenario you believe, McNeil was convicted in 2006 of killing Epp and sentenced to life in prison. He lost his appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court, with one justice dissenting. " Regardless of who you believe? Really??? The knife was in his pocket, folded up, never pulled out or used. Self defense? I don't think self defense is true when the murderer is as big if not bigger than the victim (as John McNeil is), and the murderer has a loaded gun in his hand, while the victim has no weapon in his hand or shown anywhere. Plus where is the detail of the 911 call from McNeil where he says to the operator that he is going to "whoop his ass right now" (meaning that McNeil was going to whoop Epp's ass), then proceeded to sit in his car and load his automatic handgun before he got out. He shot Brian Epp in the head...that is not self defense. Please read the actual case law before you get sucked into a black vs. white argument...it is not a racial issue, it's a cold blooded murder issue.

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