The trial for an East Texas man, accused of murdering another man outside a Tyler mall in February 2013, began on Tuesday morning. Ricky Neal, Jr., 26, is charged with murder and aggravated assault for his role in the death of 23-year-old Christopher Mass of Chapel Hill.
Neal’s aggravated assault charge stems from an incident police say began inside the Broadway Square Mall. According to an arrest affidavit, Neal and another man entered into an argument inside the mall over comments made on the social media website Twitter. Investigators said that fight eventually re-ignited in the parking lot, resulting in Neal shooting at, but missing another man.
However, during that same confrontation in the mall parking lot, police say Neal shot Mass two times, resulting in his death.
KLTV is in the courtroom and we will continue to bring you updates throughout the trial.
9:12 a.m.: Judge Russell made a stern announcement regarding photography and recordings in the courtroom. He said if anyone (not including media) takes a photo or recording in the courtroom, he will instruct deputies to confiscate all cell phones and other electronics at the door each day of the trial. He says the rules regarding recordings and photography are put in place so the jury is not exposed to other information that was not presented during trial but may influence their verdict.
8:58 a.m.: Before the judge entered the courtroom, Thad Davidson, Neal's attorney told the spectators in the courtroom that no cell phone photos can be taken in the courtroom. Davidson said someone took a photo of Neal yesterday and posted it on Facebook and that is strictly prohibited.
Tuesday morning, Neal was dressed in a black suit seated next to his attorney, Davidson.
Before selecting the jury, the court took up a few issues regarding the trial. Attorneys and Judge Kerry Russell spent about 10 minutes discussing weather or not the word "gang" and "gangster" would be allowed during the trial.
The State says they believe there may be evidence that the victim, Christopher Mass, and the defendant, Neal, were involved in gangs. At the State's request, Judge Russell says the words "gang" and "gangster" will not be used during the guilt/innocence phase of the trial.
Neal told the court he has decided that if he is found guilty, he would like to be sentence by a jury instead of a judge. Davidson tells Judge Russell that Neal does intend to take the stand and testify during the trial.
About 20 people showed up to observe the hearing.
Jury selection is taking place Tuesday morning. The trial will begin on Wednesday morning.
Monday, September 1 2014 2:00 AM EDT2014-09-01 06:00:48 GMT
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