Wilson man could get out of Georgia jail

John McNeil

October 3, 2012 2:51:53 PM PDT
The community will gather Wednesday evening to rally around a man trying to get out of jail before he heads to court for a possible new trial.

Anita McNeil has had her hopes dashed before, but Wednesday she ABC11 that she's cautiously optimistic that her husband will finally be released from a Georgia prison where he's spent the last 5-1/2 years.

John and Anita McNeill were building a new home in Georgia in 200 when John McNeil shot and killed Brian Epp, who was a contractor working on the house.

Despite an eyewitness who said Epp attacked McNeil with a knife and police testimony that McNeil acted in self-defense, he was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

But after years of legal wrangling, a Georgia judge granted McNeil's petition of habeas corpus, which means the judge believed he's being unlawfully imprisoned.

Barring an appeal by the Georgia attorney general, John McNeil could soon be a free man.

"While it is a big deal and while we are happy, these six years have taught us that you take one day at a time," said Anita.

Anita McNeil is also battling breast cancer right now. It's in advanced stages and it's spreading. So she's been fighting on two fronts.

Meantime, it's a waiting game for her husband's freedom. If Georgia's attorney general does not appeal, John McNeil could be home by Thanksgiving.

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