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W.Va. man draws 12 months in slaying

December 19, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter in the Jan. 22 shooting death of a friend was sentenced to 12 months in jail Friday, the maximum allowed by law, said Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely.

Michael Andrew Neely, 43, who is confined to a wheelchair, will serve his time in either the Northern Regional Jail or Central Regional Jail because the Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg is not equipped to handle handicapped inmates, Games-Neely said.

She said she wished Neely could serve more time, "but that is all the law allows."

The defendant, who is not related to the prosecutor, pleaded guilty to the fatal shooting of Terry Craig White, 45, of Inwood, according to court records. The shooting took place in Neely's home, court records said.

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The two men had been long-time friends and both were intoxicated at the time of the shooting, court records said. Games-Neely said there was no evidence of a struggle and that the defendant called 911 after the shooting.

Some members of the victim's family pushed for a second-degree murder charge against Neely, but the prosecutor said the evidence did not support it. She said she the evidence could not prove that Neely meant to kill White.

The victim's wife agreed with the involuntary manslaughter plea, Games-Neely said.

"It was a difficult case in that half the family wanted one charge and the other half a more serious charge," she said Friday.

Neely will have to serve at least 10 months before he is eligible for release, the prosecutor said.

Attorney Kevin Mills of Martinsburg, Neely's lawyer, said the defendant will only have to serve about eight months.

Several of the victim's relatives became upset when Circuit Court Judge David Sanders read the sentence. They were removed from the courtroom by bailiffs, court officials said.

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