NATIONAL NEWS

Former death row inmate in Mississippi to be resentenced to life with possibility of parole

Aug 24, 2023, 2:50 PM

This 2023 photo provided by the Mississippi Department of Corrections shows Howard M. Neal. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, that former death row inmate Howard M. Neal, will be resentenced a second time because of a determination that he has intellectual disabilities. The new sentence will make Neal eligible for the possibility of parole. (The Mississippi Department of Corrections viia AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(The Mississippi Department of Corrections viia AP)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A former death row inmate in Mississippi will be resentenced again because of a determination that he has intellectual disabilities — and the new sentence will make him eligible for the possibility of parole.

The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday in the case of Howard M. Neal, 69, who sent a handwritten letter to justices in June to seek a change to his current sentence of life without parole. Neal wrote that he is in poor health.

In a response Aug. 9, the state attorney general’s office agreed that Neal “is entitled to be resentenced to life imprisonment” with the possibility of parole.

Neal was convicted in 1982 and sentenced to death for the 1981 kidnapping and killing of his 13-year-old half-niece, Amanda Joy Neal. The killing took place south of the state’s capital in Lawrence County, and the trial was moved to Lamar County.

Mississippi allows the death penalty for people convicted of a killing committed along with another felony.

In 2017, investigators interviewed Neal about the killing of two people whose bodies were found in a southern California desert in 1980. The San Bernadino County Sheriff’s Department said Neal told them he picked up the couple while they were hitchhiking, took them to his home and shot the man during an argument over Neal’s physical advances toward the woman. Investigators said they believe Neal sexually assaulted the woman before killing her.

According to court records in Mississippi, the state where he grew up, Neal was unable to advance past second grade by the time he was 10 years old, and he was then sent to schools for people with intellectual disabilities.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the execution of people with intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional because it is cruel and unusual. A Mississippi judge in 2008 resentenced Neal under a state law that said an inmate must be be resentenced to life without parole if the death penalty is deemed unconstitutional.

In 2015, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of another death row inmate with intellectual disabilities. State justices said the law on resentencing to life without parole would apply only if the death penalty were found unconstitutional for all inmates, not just those with intellectual disabilities.

The state Attorney General’s office wrote this month that Neal’s case is “materially indistinguishable” from the one that justices decided in 2015.

The court documents filed in Mississippi this year do not mention that California investigators interviewed Neal about the 1980 killings.

National News

Holding signs with photos of Israeli hostages and demanding their release, people react as they wat...

Associated Press

Israel-Hamas war latest: Cease-fire talks face delays after Netanyahu’s fiery speech to Congress

Officials from Egypt, Israel, the United States and Qatar were expected to meet Thursday in Doha with the aim of resuming talks for a proposed three-phase cease-fire to end the war between Israel and Hamas and free the remaining hostages. But an Israeli official said Israel’s negotiating team was delayed and would likely be dispatched […]

39 minutes ago

FILE - A woman fills out a pledge card for the U.S. Census in exchange for a reusable boba tea cart...

Associated Press

Noncitizens are less likely to participate in a census with citizenship question, study says

Adding a citizenship question to the census reduces the participation of people who aren’t U.S. citizens, particularly those from Latin American countries, according to a new research paper that comes as Republicans in Congress are pushing to add such a question to the census form. Noncitizens who pay taxes but are ineligible to have a […]

4 hours ago

FILE - State Election Board member Rick Jeffares asks the crowd to settle down during a hastily pla...

Associated Press

Trump-friendly panel shapes Georgia’s election rules at long, often chaotic meetings

ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia State Election Board, which once toiled in relative obscurity, now hosts raucous meetings where public comment spans several hours and attendees regularly heckle its members. The shift highlights how election administration has become increasingly scrutinized and politicized, particularly in Georgia and other states that President Joe Biden flipped for Democrats […]

5 hours ago

FILE - This June 13, 2016 photo shows Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Florida. Thousands ...

Associated Press

Takeaways from AP’s investigation into DEA corruption, agent accused of rape

MIAMI (AP) — Thousands of secret law enforcement documents obtained by The Associated Press offer a never-before-seen window into a culture of corruption among U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents who parlayed the agency’s shadowy money laundering operations into a worldwide pursuit of binge drinking and illicit sex. Among the documents is a recovered WhatsApp chat, […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Reggie Daniels pays his respects a memorial at Robb Elementary School, June 9, 2022, in Uval...

Associated Press

Uvalde school officer charged over actions during Robb Elementary shooting set to appear in court

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — A former Uvalde school police officer who was part of the slow law enforcement response to the 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School is scheduled to appear in court for the first time Thursday. Adrian Gonzales was one of the nearly 400 law enforcement personnel who responded to the scene […]

5 hours ago

This October 2014 photo obtained by The Associated Press shows then-U.S. Drug Enforcement Administr...

Associated Press

Secret DEA files show agents joked about rape in WhatsApp chat. Then one of them was accused of it.

MIAMI (AP) — In a WhatsApp chat that quickly devolved into depravity, a group of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents boasted about their “world debauchery tour” of “boozing and whoring” on the government’s dime. They swapped lurid images of their latest sexual conquests. And at one point they even joked about “forcible anal rape.” Within […]

5 hours ago

Former death row inmate in Mississippi to be resentenced to life with possibility of parole