11 a.m. Monday, March 13, 2017 UPDATE:
A man who pleaded guilty to charges of First Degree Murder and Attempted Murder was sentenced in a Mercer County courtroom on Monday. He had entered the plea back in January.
Michael Neel was seen in front of the Honorable William Sadler. The judge sentenced him to serve life in prison, but granted Neel mercy in the case. That means he will be eligible for parole.
Judge Sadler also sentenced Neel to one to 10 years each on two other charges. As a result, Neel will have to serve at least 25 years in prison.
2:30 p.m. Sept. 19, 2016 UPDATE:
A hearing held in Mercer County lead a new trial date for Michael Neel. He is accused of First Degree Murder and Attempted Murder. Those charges stem from the shooting of his estranged wife, Kayla Neel and her friend Dakota Walls. A jury was unable to reach a decision on those charges during a trial in August. Neel has already been convicted on charges of Wanton Endangerment and Malicious Assault.
Neel is scheduled to go on trial again for the murder charges on Jan 30, 2017. Another hearing will be held before the trial on Nov. 28.
The jury reached a partial verdict for a man accused of killing his estranged wife in Mercer County. Michael Neel is accused of murdering his estranged wife and shooting her friend. On Wednesday August 24, 2016 Michael Neel was convicted on 2 Counts of Wanton Endangerment and 1 Count of Malicious Assault. A mistrial was declared for counts 1 and 2. Those counts include First Degree Murder and Attempt to Commit First Degree Murder. Michael Neel is accused of killing his wife Kayla Neel and wounding her friend Dakota Walls back in December of 2014.
The reported incident happened when Dakota and Kayla were returning to Bluewell after watching the Holiday of Lights in Bluefield. Kayla’s 1-year-old daughter was in the back seat at the time of the shooting but was not injured.
59News spoke with Kayla’s mother Laura Gillespie Christian. She said she is at peace with the verdict. Christian did not want to go on camera. Her main concern is Kayla’s daughter. Christian said she wants to raise her up right and not with hate. 59News also spoke with Stephanie Vaughn after the verdict. She’s a friend of the defendant.
Vaughn said, “From everybody on Michael’s side, we’re really sorry for what happened and if we could change it we would for Aubrey.”
The prosecution was hoping for a unanimous verdict.
Mercer County Assisting Prosecuting Attorney Kelli Harshbarger said, “Obviously we’re disappointed that the jury was not able to reach a unanimous verdict but this is the jury process. I think our juries take it very seriously.”
Sentencing for Neel is being pushed back until the court has a verdict for First Degree Murder and Attempt to Commit First Degree Murder. There will be another trial for those 2 charges. There will be a status hearing on September 19, 2016 at 9:30 a.m.
2:45 p.m. Aug. 24, 2016 UPDATE:
A split verdict is returned by the jury in Michael Neel’s murder trial. Neel was accused of killing his estranged wife Kayla Neel and critically injuring Dakota Walls.
After a whirlwind two day trial. The jury returned a guilty verdict on charges of Malicious Wounding and two counts of Wanton Endangerment. However, the jury could not reach a decision on charges of murder and attempted murder, so a mistrial was declared on those two charges.
12 p.m. Aug. 24, 2016 UPDATE:
The jury in the Michael Neel murder trial has reached a partial verdict. Just before lunch on Wednesday the jury said they have found Neel guilty on charges of Malicious Wounding and two counts of Wanton Endangerment. They were deadlocked on charges of First Degree Murder and Attempted Murder. They took a break for lunch and were expected to return to deliberations after the break.
ORIGINAL STORY: The fate of a man accused of killing his wife and wounding her friend rests in the hands of a jury in Mercer County. After about 3 hours of deliberations, a 12-person jury decided to break for the night and pick back up on deliberations on Wednesday August 24, 2016. Michael Neel’s fate may be determined on Wednesday.
Dakota Walls is now in a wheel-chair following the reported shooting that happened in December of 2014.
Walls said, “It’s been rough.”
Michel Neel is accused of killing his wife Kayla Neel and wounding her friend Walls back in December of 2014. The reported incident happened when Walls and Kayla were returning to Bluewell after watching the Holiday of Lights in Bluefield.
Walls said, “I just went to go see the lights. I had never seen the lights before and I was dropping her off and we talked for a long time and Michael showed up and it just went down hill from then.”
Walls said he goes to therapy twice a week and pool therapy once a week. His grandmother Hope Perdue has been having a hard time with it all.
Perdue said, “God says turn the other cheek, I can’t. He messed up more lives than he realizes on his family and on mine. My grandson will spend the rest of his life like that.”
The prosecution is asking for Michael Neel to spend the rest of his life in prison.
Mercer County Assisting Prosecuting Attorney Kelli Harshbarger said, “When the defendant chose to end his marriage by putting his wife in a coffin, he chose the consequences.”
Kayla’s 1-year-old daughter was in the backseat at the time of the shooting but was not injured. The defense says Michael wasn’t going after his wife.
Defense Attorney Ryan Flanigan said, “He was trying to get in there trying to attack Mr. Walls. He wasn’t going after Kayla.”
Family members of the victims would like for Michael Neel to get a life sentence. He is charged with First Degree Murder , Attempt To Commit First Degree Murder, Malicious Assault and 2 Counts of Wanton Endangerment.