Neal’s resentencing upheld

Published 3:41 pm Thursday, November 12, 2009

The state Court of Appeals has upheld the life without parole sentence handed former death row Howard Monteville Neal by a Lamar County judge in 2008.

Neal was convicted of shooting his brother, Bobby Neal, and raping and killing a 13-year-old girl and the girl’s 14-year-old friend in 1981. The 13-year-old was Howard Neal’s niece.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute mentally retarded defendants.

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In 2007, Neal underwent several tests that determined he was mentally retarded. The Mississippi Supreme Court ordered him re-sentenced to life without parole.

The Appeals Court on Tuesday denied Neal’s claim that a life without parole sentence was not an option when he was first convicted.