"We were afraid if we went to trial, the jury could find him innocent. So we had to go with something. The judge asked before he accepted the plea if we were aware of what was being done. But what are you going to do? You can't risk letting him go entirely," Betty White said.
On Jan. 22, Neely and White had been drinking when Neely shot him in the head with his .357-caliber revolver, according to court records.
Neely then called 911 and told a dispatcher he had just shot a man.
Capt. Curtis Keller of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department found White dead on the kitchen floor of Neely's house at 1201 Winchester Ave.
White was pronounced dead at City Hospital.
At Friday's hearing, Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely told Circuit Judge David Sanders that the victim's family and the investigating officers agreed to Neely pleading to involuntary manslaughter, according to court records.
Games-Neely briefed White's family at noon, an hour before the hearing, about the plea agreement, Betty White said.
The prosecutor, in going over the case, "offered a candid assessment that the state could not sustain at trial any higher charge than involuntary manslaughter," according to court records.
"The state also represented that sanity and diminished capacity were very real factors in a defense which could lead a reasonable jury to refuse to convict at any level," according to court records.
Neely had worked in masonry for 20 years before deciding to do farm work. He injured his back in a farm accident and spends nearly all of his time confined to a wheelchair.
Sanders ordered a pre-sentence investigation. The sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 21.