UPDATES: Witness talks about moments leading up to fatal mall shooting
Ricky Neal, Jr. (Source: Smith County Jail)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -
The trial for an East Texas man, accused of murdering another man outside a Tyler mall in February 2013, continued Wednesday 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.
3:59 p.m.: Jonathon Dews has been released, subject to being called back as a witness during the remainder of the trial.
The state has called Jimmy Witt as their next witness.
3:03 p.m.: Dews testified that while in the mall parking lot, he saw Mass take off his hoodie and put it in his car. He stated Mass was standing by his car with his arms crossed. Dews stated he walked towards Neal because he was "trying to fight him." He saw Neal pull out a gun. He told Neal, "It's not that type of party," and ran away. Dews stated he ran, dropped his jacket, fell, ran to the main entrance of the mall, and called 911.2:40 p.m.: The judge asked the jury to leave the courtroom while he takes up a matter with the attorneys.
Jonathon Dews is still on the stand.
The prosecutor and defense attorney argued about the nature of a hand gesture made by Dews in a surveillance video. The defense claimed Dews was making a "stop" gesture and the prosecution disagreed. The judge ruled that there is no evidence in the video reflecting that and has precluded the defense from mentioning it.
1:44 p.m.: Neal's defense attorney, Thad Davidson, has begun his cross examination of Jonathon Dews. Dews admitted he is a convicted felon and on parole for manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance. At Davidson's mention of this, a visibly upset audience member had a small outburst, left the courtroom, and was followed out by several others.
Dews later went on to state that during the verbal altercation in the mall, Neal told him, "You don't know me. I don't know you. We're gonna keep it that way." He stated he asked Neal what he was talking about and Neal said, "I'm gonna show you about me." Dews stated it was at this point that Neal walked out of the mall and motioned for Dews to follow him.
Dews stated he went outside "to go fight Ricky Neal." He stated two other men, including Christopher Mass, followed him out. Dews also stated Neal told him, "You should've come out here by yourself."
11:47 a.m.: The trial of Ricky Neal Jr., resumed Wednesday with the state calling their first witness, Jonathon Dews. Dews, a John Tyler High School graduate, stated he got into a verbal altercation with Neal over a tweet Neal had sent to Dews’ wife. He stated he followed Neal out of the mall to fight with him because Neal had provoked him. Outside, he saw Neal point a gun at Christopher Mass, the deceased victim in this case. He stated he saw Mass fall to the ground and as he ran away from Neal, he saw Neal point the gun at him and shoot three to four more times.
On Tuesday morning, Neal was dressed in a black suit seated next to his attorney, Davidson.
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.