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

Rate this post

A former Mississippi death row inmate will be resentenced because he was determined to have an intellectual disability, 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 requesting a change to his current sentence of life without parole. Neal wrote that he is in poor health.

In an Aug. 9 response, the state attorney general's office agreed that Neal “has the right to be resentenced to life in prison” with the possibility of parole.

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

A black delivery driver loses his job at FedEx, more than a year after saying white men attacked him
Mississippi allows the death penalty for people convicted of a murder committed in conjunction with another felony.

In 2017, investigators interviewed Neal about the murders 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 about Neal's physical advances on the woman. Investigators said they believe Neal sexually assaulted the woman before killing her.

According to court records from Mississippi, the state where he grew up, Neal couldn't get past the second grade when he was 10 years old, and then he was sent to schools for people with intellectual disabilities.

In 2002, the US Supreme Court ruled that the execution of people with intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional because it is cruel and unusual. In 2008, a Mississippi judge re-sentenced Neal under a state law that said an inmate must be re-sentenced 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 an intellectual disability. State judges said the new life sentence without parole law 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 the judges decided in 2015.

Court documents filed in Mississippi this year make no mention that California investigators interviewed Neal about the 1980 murders.

Author Profile

Nathan Rivera
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Nathan Rivera, a dedicated journalist who has had the privilege of writing for the online newspaper Today90. My journey in the world of journalism has been a testament to the power of dedication, integrity, and passion.

My story began with a relentless thirst for knowledge and an innate curiosity about the events shaping our world. I graduated with honors in Investigative Journalism from a renowned university, laying the foundation for what would become a fulfilling career in the field.

What sets me apart is my unwavering commitment to uncovering the truth. I refuse to settle for superficial answers or preconceived narratives. Instead, I constantly challenge the status quo, delving deep into complex issues to reveal the reality beneath the surface. My dedication to investigative journalism has uncovered numerous scandals and shed light on issues others might prefer to ignore.

I am also a staunch advocate for press freedom. I have tirelessly fought to protect the rights of journalists and have faced significant challenges in my quest to inform the public truthfully and without constraints. My courage in defending these principles serves as an example to all who believe in the power of journalism to change the world.

Throughout my career, I have been honored with numerous awards and recognitions for my outstanding work in journalism. My investigations have changed policies, exposed corruption, and given a voice to those who had none. My commitment to truth and justice makes me a beacon of hope in a world where misinformation often prevails.

At Today90, I continue to be a driving force behind journalistic excellence. My tireless dedication to fair and accurate reporting is an invaluable asset to the editorial team. My biography is a living testament to the importance of journalism in our society and a reminder that a dedicated journalist can make a difference in the world.