John McNeil, George Zimmerman and Stand Your Ground

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Erin Nanasi is an avid underwater basket weaver, with a penchant for satire and the odd wombat reference.
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On December 6th, 2005, John McNeil fatally shot Brian Epp, the owner of a construction company. The McNeil family had hired Epp’s company to build a home for them in Georgia, but Epp became increasingly threatening to John McNeil and his wife. They closed on the house early, and ordered Epp to stay off the property, an order Epp ignored.

The McNeil family was not the only one to have an issue with Brian Epp. David Sampson and his wife, Libby, had hired an attorney to send Epp a letter ordering him to stay clear of their property, and the couple later testified that they “carried a gun” to protect themselves from Brian Epp.

The afternoon of December 6th, 2005, Brian Epp showed up in John McNeil’s yard. McNeil’s son, La’Ron, testified that Epp threatened him with a knife, and La’Ron ran into the house to call his father on the phone. McNeil immediately called 911 for help, and when he arrived in his driveway, Epp was getting something from his own truck. John McNeil grabbed his handgun from the glove compartment, as Epp quickly approached him. McNeil fired a warning shot into the ground, trying to keep Epp back. As Epp kept coming towards him, he reached into his pocket, and John McNeil shot Brian Epp once in the head.

A neighbor who witnessed the incident corroborated McNeil’s statements to the police, and John McNeil was not arrested. Georgia has a Stand Your Ground law, and John McNeil’s actions-defending his family against a threatening and violent intruder-were the classic Stand Your Ground case. A year later, John McNeil was on trial for murder, he was convicted and is now serving a life sentence in prison. The prosecutor received “anonymous” emails, including one discovered to be from Brian Epp’s widow, demanding the state try John McNeil. And the prosecutor gave in.

Now we have George Zimmerman, claiming the exact same law protects him from facing any sort of punishment in the shooting death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin. The NRA, ALEC, Republican pundits and commentators are all calling for Florida to “do the right thing,” and not punish Zimmerman for defending himself. Neo Nazis are patrolling Sanford, Florida, protecting the white citizens (their words) from possible race riots. The New Black Panthers put a $10,000 bounty on George Zimmerman’s head. Fox news is orgasmic over this case, as is the rest of the 24 hour news media.

So what’s the difference? Where was all this indignation when John McNeil was charged with murder in what is a textbook case of Stand Your Ground? Where were Fox and the NRA and ALEC and all these pundits? Where were the liberal champions for Brian Epp? What’s the difference?

John McNeil is black and Brian Epp was white. Civil rights activist Markel Hutchins has filed a lawsuit in Georgia, seeking to strike down the Stand Your Ground law. According to the lawsuit, some courts have “accepted the race of a victim as evidence to establish the reasonableness of an individual’s fear in cases of justifiable homicide.” Hutchins says that in those circumstances, the law as it is written now does not offer him and other African Americans equal protection.

Because Brian Epp was white, a jury and a court in Georgia believed he posed no imminent threat to John McNeil. Even though the Sampsons testified to their own experience with Epp, John McNeil’s son described Epp threatening him with a knife and a witness for the state, Bobby Smith, gave testimony that maintained Epp was the aggressor, John McNeil was sentenced to life in prison. An appeal was denied and the conviction was upheld by a 6-1 margin.

According to the language of Stand Your Ground, John McNeil followed the law. He was defending his safety and the safety of his family against a man who was a known threat in the community. George Zimmerman was not shooting an armed robber or someone who was trespassing on his property. But the NRA and all the right wing pundits are protecting and championing George Zimmerman, while they were deathly silent when John McNeil was arrested, tried and convicted for defending his family against an armed man who had threatened McNeil’s son. So why the different responses? Why is Zimmerman shooting and killing an unarmed 17-year old perfectly fine to the NRA, but John McNeil shooting and killing a man who had waved a knife in his son’s face, been ordered to stay off his property and had a history of threatening behavior garners no support?

What do you think? Is there a racial double standard when it comes to Stand Your Ground? If John McNeil was white, and Brian Epp had been black, would there have been a different outcome? And if George Zimmerman was black, and Trayvon Martin had been white, would Stand Your Ground still apply, or would Florida be following in Georgia’s footsteps? Comment and let us know how you feel about this seemingly glaring double standard.

Thanks to Melissa Perry and Republic Magazine for contributions to this article.

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Posted by on April 16, 2012. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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20 Responses to John McNeil, George Zimmerman and Stand Your Ground

  1. starburst63 Reply

    April 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    With respect I must say I get sick and tired of hearing about how the blacks are being discriminated against. I think sometimes they make this claim to give them privileges others don’t have. It’s wrong and makes us all depressed. Please get over it. Everything that happens to black people isn’t because of discrimination or racism. You are no more a victim than anyone else in the country.

    • the8thsword Reply

      April 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      If this is your version of the understanding behind what is happening with these cases, then clearly you do not understand, nor care to understand the damaging extent of the unmitigated perfidy and hubristic nature of your deleterious comments. Anyone encompassing even an average amount of historical knowledge knows that this country’s extensive history of disparating racial stigmatizations and lack of fairness in our criminal justice system.

      And not for nothing. The false media narrative that sets the tone for a discourse solely promoted to language on so-called black-on-black crime, unfairly understates the nature of white-on-white crime as well (after all, white people do kill other white people too). But if there was no validity to the call for justice and to arrest the man who confessed to murdering an unarmed 17 year-old boy for no reason, the American public would have never known the seeds of racism that would sprout as a result.

      Fox News, Brent Bozell, Bernie Goldberg, the Sanford police, Terry Jones, the Miami-Dade fire captain…the list goes on and on continuously, respectively.

      If the Stand Your Ground law was so fair, how come it took 45 days to capture Zimmerman for committing a crime and trying to defend himself with a law that did not apply to him, while a man in Georgia has to serve prison time for implementing the very law that is now in dispute.

      A black man gets to go to prison for rightfully defending his property, while a white-Hispanic racist murder with no need for penance other than to say he is sorry for “defending himself” from a victim who was running away from him, gets a get out of jail free card for 45 days until an arrest is finally made.

      If you see nothing wrong with that picture, then your overly emotional and hyperbolic exhaustion from the social causality behind the racist over and undertones by people partaking in the media-oriented, malignant defense of a man who confessed and disengenuously tries to clear his name, in connection to the decades of criminal judiciary malfeasance by those hired to serve the public trust and protect their respective constitutents leads only one to conclude that from the naked ignorance and toxic dismissiveness of your comments synthesize the lingustics of your platform as nothing more than that of a racist individual.

      Your acrimonious allegations of entitlement and of those seeking some sort of “professional victimhood” are exemplary of the very negligent and poisonous rhetoric coming from the Right-wing. Not for nothing, but if the issue itself fatigues you to such a degree where you would like to be left alone and not see such popular issues being discussed on a public platform, perhaps it is best that you join your fellow cavemen bretheren and stay there and wait until the proverbial dust settles.

      And believe you me, with the way things are, that day will not come for a VERY long time.

      While I am at it, I must commend you on your exuberance of your unique talent. Not everyone can live comfortably with their head externally connected with their rectum for long periods of time.

      It is a wonder all its own how respiration and aerobics are even a possibility for you.

      Bravo, cheesedick. Bravo.

      • Sheila Fahey Reply

        April 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm

        Well said, 8thSword.

        Although I think the neanderthal “starburst63″ will be spending the rest of the evening flipping through pages of a dictionary in order to comprehend your commentary.

        (I’m fairly certain the “63” relates to his recorded IQ score)

      • Grendelwolf Reply

        February 14, 2013 at 10:22 pm

        ” If this is your version of the understanding behind what is happening with these cases, then clearly you do not understand, nor care to understand the damaging extent of the unmitigated perfidy and hubristic nature of your deleterious comments. Anyone encompassing even an average amount of historical knowledge knows that this country’s extensive history of disparating racial stigmatizations and lack of fairness in our criminal justice system.”

        Yes your are right, the MSM covers up the Black violence such as Black flash mobs, beat YT night, etc. When an innocent Hispanic goes to jail for defending himself from a Black Thug while utilizing the ” stand your ground” law he is demonized, called a racist. etc.

        ‘ And not for nothing. The false media narrative that sets the tone for a discourse solely promoted to language on so-called black-on-black crime, unfairly understates the nature of white-on-white crime as well (after all, white people do kill other white people too). But if there was no validity to the call for justice and to arrest the man who confessed to murdering an unarmed 17 year-old boy for no reason, the American public would have never known the seeds of racism that would sprout as a result.’

        Yes there is White on White crime, but not to the extent that there is Black on Black or even Black on White crime. Blacks contribute to 98% of hate crimes in the U.S, and yet they are still painted as the ” Victims”, go figure. How about the MSM start reporting on real Black violence against Whites in this country instead of covering it up.

        ” If the Stand Your Ground law was so fair, how come it took 45 days to capture Zimmerman for committing a crime and trying to defend himself with a law that did not apply to him, while a man in Georgia has to serve prison time for implementing the very law that is now in dispute.”

        First of all sir you need to get your facts straight, there was enough evidence to Prove Zimmerman was innocent to fill a whole court room. If not for Traypons money hungry mother, the race baiting NAACP, Al Sharpton, and the MSM falsely reporting on crimes before they even have the facts Zimmerman would have got justice and a drug abusing, Lean drinking, violent, unlawful Thug known as Traypon would not saluted as a hero.

        ” A black man gets to go to prison for rightfully defending his property, while a white-Hispanic racist murder with no need for penance other than to say he is sorry for “defending himself” from a victim who was running away from him, gets a get out of jail free card for 45 days until an arrest is finally made.”

        Again, get your facts straight.

        ” If you see nothing wrong with that picture, then your overly emotional and hyperbolic exhaustion from the social causality behind the racist over and undertones by people partaking in the media-oriented, malignant defense of a man who confessed and disengenuously tries to clear his name, in connection to the decades of criminal judiciary malfeasance by those hired to serve the public trust and protect their respective constitutents leads only one to conclude that from the naked ignorance and toxic dismissiveness of your comments synthesize the lingustics of your platform as nothing more than that of a racist individual.”

        With your inability to actually fact check everything you see on T.V, hear on the radio, etc you come off as an uninformed individual that loves to call someone racist because he states something that you don’t agree with. Wait, isn’t that what all Libtards do?

        ” Your acrimonious allegations of entitlement and of those seeking some sort of “professional victimhood” are exemplary of the very negligent and poisonous rhetoric coming from the Right-wing. Not for nothing, but if the issue itself fatigues you to such a degree where you would like to be left alone and not see such popular issues being discussed on a public platform, perhaps it is best that you join your fellow cavemen bretheren and stay there and wait until the proverbial dust settles.”

        Maybe you should get off the PC bandwagon, do some research into public, racial matters before you post such ignorant responses. Maybe you should go live with your Libtard buddies and hope that dancing around a campfire with your blindfolds on, singing Kumbaya with your false hope that it would solve the worlds problems. People like you are the very reason why this country is in trouble.

        ” While I am at it, I must commend you on your exuberance of your unique talent. Not everyone can live comfortably with their head externally connected with their rectum for long periods of time.”

        You seem to be doing just fine with your head up your rectum. Libtards like you live in a fantasy world, so removed from reality. I hope that the very Blacks that you lovingly state are victims of the evil White devil come to your Ivory Tower of ignorance, and give you and your family a lesson in reality.

    • Erin Nanasi Reply

      April 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      So in your opinion, Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law is perfectly fine and John McNeil should be serving a life sentence for murder, even though his actions in 2005 are EXACTLY what SYG covers? It’s absolutely normal for John McNeil, who was defending his own life from a man who had a history of threatening behavior, to be arrested a year later and sentenced to life in prison? That makes sense in your head? Did you actually read the article, or just the key words like “black,” “Zimmerman,” and “racial?”

      • DrZaius Reply

        April 18, 2012 at 3:00 am

        When you accuse others of not reading an article, can I accuse you of not looking up the statute of Georgia law that does away with the Duty to Retreat? Look at the year this killing occurred and compare it to the date OCGA 16-3-23.1 passed. I know you have an agenda to drive here, but do your homework on it first.

    • Anonymous Reply

      April 23, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      Where was all of the indignation last November? Where is it now…..I’m speaking of the death of Florida A&M Drum Major Richard Champion, a promising young black man looking forward to graduation and loved by his mother and father as much as Treyvon was loved by his mother and father. He was beaten to death on the Band bus by a reported 15 or 16 of the A&M Band members in a hotel parking lot in Orlando after their football game with rival Bethune Cookman. Five months have passed and no arrests as yet. The authorities haven’t made any arrests after all this time has passed. I haven’t seen or heard anything remotely associated with that tragedy coming from the self appointed “black leaders”, have you? Why is that?
      Do you suppose it could be remotely tied to the fact that it doesn’t fit the scenario of the “never ending racism” charge?
      Maybe there is another reason, if so, I would certainly like to hear it from Jessie, Al, and Louie.
      Maybe they will do it while they are marching with self flagellation and words of great sorrow for their disrespect of his passing …because his death was somehow not worthy of even a mention.

      • Michael John Scott Reply

        April 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm

        How true. A black man, a young man, like Martin, is killed without cause. While there was news on this locally there was rarely a mention of it in the MSM. Reason: It was a black on black crime, and as “anonymous” says, it removes the “racism” label, embraced by vicious race hustlers like Sharpton and Jackson. Where is the outrage? This young man did nothing to deserve this. Where are all the Pollyanna Liberals? Why the silence?

    • nubwaxer Reply

      August 28, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      ah shucks, it makes you all depressed and stuff, but not for the case where it’s evident there was more than enough evidence to acquit because of reasonable doubt and it just screams racism to anyone outside your delusional world view.

  2. Sheila Fahey Reply

    April 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    “starburst63″ I can certainly see why you wouldn’t want to use your real name. (I’m guessing your white sheet has a tag with your real name on it, in case it gets separated from the hood?)

    Your comment boggles my mind. Did you even READ the article? If you did, you should be assessed by a learning disability specialist for a reading comprehension deficiency.

    Not wanting to jump to any conclusion here, but I’m going to take a wild guess that you’re a WHITE MALE. If so, then you have about as much context to make the eye-popping statements you have, as you do having an opinion about whether I should have access to birth control or not. In other words, ZERO.

    Walk a mile (or even drive a mile!) in the shoes of a black male one of these days. And, please make it in a place like Georgia, Mississippi or Alabama!

    THEN you can come back and tell us what your experience was like.

  3. Sheila Fahey Reply

    April 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    btw … “starburst” – please replace the word “black” in your little screed above with the word “WOMEN” and then with the word “CATHOLIC” and then with the word “UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS” and see whether it finally gets through your thick skull what a boneheaded, racist, completely-devoid-of-reality comment you posted.

    (and if you’re “depressed” – even more reason than you’ve already displayed for you to seek a mental health intervention)

    The only thing I’m depressed about is that in the 21st Century there are still Neanderthals like you amongst us.

  4. starburst63 Reply

    April 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I’m a black woman strong and proud and tired, yes tired, of seeing all you liberals whine for us. We need to stop whining ourselves. You aren’t helping. Stick to your own business you arrogant crackers.

    • Sheila Fahey Reply

      April 16, 2012 at 6:36 pm

      LOL, yeah, sorry not buyin’ that for one new york minute.

      If you were, as you claim, a “black woman” it would not make a whit of sense for you to refer to your own race utilizing a Third Person Pronoun like “THEM”

      BUSTED.

      • Con Ma Reply

        April 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm

        Maybe we should look past the end of our noses and see what reality looks like before we opine with visceral accusations one way or the other. A little research may help to bridge the chasm:

        This incident happened two years ago on public County property where children are present.

        TAMPA: The man had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and when he ended a confrontation by fatally shooting another man, he created controversy by claiming immunity under Florida’s controversial
        “Stand your ground law”.

        This shooting happened in Valrico in 2010 and involved 71-year-old Trevor Dooley, who shot and killed David James, a 41-year-old decorated U.S. Air Force veteran, after an argument about a kid skateboarding at a park.

        Dooley’s attorney filed final arguments in the case this week. Echoing the testimony in an evidentiary hearing earlier this year, the arguments revolve primarily around the Stand Your Ground law.

        The law has been under the spotlight after Trayvon Martin was gunned down in Sanford in January. The shooter, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, wasn’t arrested until Wednesday; his attorney says he will use a Stand Your Ground defense.

        Dooley’s fate lies in the hands of Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, who heard the testimony at the hearings and has to decide if Dooley’s actions fall under the protection of the statute.

        The motion recounts testimony from four eyewitnesses and cites several cases in making the argument that the homicide charge against Trevor Dooley should be dismissed.

        “Based on the evidence presented,” the motion said, “it is undeniable Mr. Dooley acted in lawful self defense on the date of the incident.”

        The September 2010 incident began when Dooley became irked about a teenager skateboarding on the basketball court in a county park across from his house in Valrico. He yelled across the street at the teen to get off the court.

        James and his 8 year old daughter were playing basketball at the time and said it was OK if the skateboarder used the other end of the court.

        Dooley persisted and walked across the street to again tell the teen to leave. He and James, who didn’t know the skateboarder or Dooley, had words.

        According to testimony at his trial, Dooley turned to leave and James closed the gap. What’s unclear is whether James knew Dooley had a handgun in his pocket and if he was intent on disarming the man to protect his child and the teen.

        Dooley said he pulled the .32-caliber handgun only after James was on him and threw him to the ground. James, a much larger man, was on top of Dooley.

        “With no options left and the muzzle pointed at the decedent’s chest,” the motion said, “Mr. Dooley pulled the trigger.”

        The bullet struck James in the chest and he was dead within seconds, testimony said.

        Dooley’s attorney, Ron Tulin of Plant City, argued in his 29-page motion filed Wednesday afternoon that Dooley was in imminent fear for his life and was forced to use deadly force.

        Dooley was arrested two days later and charged with manslaughter, improper exhibition of a firearm and openly carrying a firearm. He is free on $50,000 bail.

        Prosecutors during the hearings suggested Dooley crossed the street with his gun and was spoiling for a fight. If the judge believes that to be the case, a trial date will be set and the case will be presented to a jury. Prosecutors have until April 25 to file a rebuttal of Tulin’s argument.

        Dooley is claiming immunity from criminal prosecution under the “Stand Your Ground” law passed in 2005. The law says a person can use deadly force if there is imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death and removed a person’s duty to retreat in the face of such peril as was required in a previous self-defense law.

    • Anonymous Reply

      April 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      Starburst63, if your excessive and brash deridation of us as “arrogant crackers” is nothing short of a derivative attack on a progressive post to distort the conversation and dismiss the importance of discussing the issues involved with the aforementioned subject matter. I am privy to believe, even moreso now that your use of such a deragatory term is indicative of your racist sentiment, which alone, alienates your inflammatory commentary from any validity which you have attempted here, shortsighted at best. Moreover, as I have already stated with great brevity, if you do not enjoy such discord, feel free to not engage yourself further in the thread. We would rather much discuss these issue with well-minded people than those such as yourself, who already carries misdirected interpretations of other peoples’ ethnic foundation…not that it should matter if any of us are a white as you so uninformatively suggest that we all are, opposite of your phony “black womanhood” highlighted by your reference of said ethnicity in the third person.

      We get it, you are just a troll, a toy soldier who came to do a job and propagandize as much as you possibly can. You did your thing and you have successfully managed to chase your own tail, fall on your face and give the above written artice even more clarity and affirmation than before, proving us, AND the author correct about the volatile nature of Right-wing hypocrisy in our daily discourse.

      Surely you must be tired from all the butterflies you’re giving yourself. But don’t bang your head too hard on your keyboard, lest you rearrange your letter by accident in the process and reveal your true, grammatically correct and uneducated form.

      Now go haz urself a cheezburgur. ^_^ <3

    • Erin Nanasi Reply

      April 16, 2012 at 7:16 pm

      With respect I must say I get sick and tired of hearing about how the blacks are being discriminated against. I think sometimes they make this claim to give them privileges others don’t have. It’s wrong and makes us all depressed. Please get over it. Everything that happens to black people isn’t because of discrimination or racism. You are no more a victim than anyone else in the country.

      This is your original comment. “the blacks.” “they make this claim.” “You are no more a victim…” You use “the blacks,” which is a derogatory term used by white nationalists, you refer to blacks as “they” and you write “You are no more a victim,” referring to blacks as something other than what you are. Then you verbally attack not only the readers commenting on this article, but myself, calling us “crackers.” If you are indeed, as you claim, a “black woman strong and proud,” why would you, three times in your own comment, refer to black Americans in the third person? And if you are a black woman, why would you be so incredibly resistant to the facts put forth by Mr. Hutchins in regard to Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law? I would think, as an American and especially as a self-proclaimed black American, you would be outraged at the hypocrisy and double standard evident in the John McNeil case.

  5. DrZaius Reply

    April 18, 2012 at 3:02 am

    What does this story have to do with Stand Your Ground when the law similar to Florida’s SYG statute did not pass until the year after this shooting? If anything, this shows that states need to create laws that protects the actor’s right to defend himself. I hear many whiny liberals (with some whiny conservatives) and race baiters complain that we do not need these kind of laws since every state has something in it for self-defense. As this case shows, that is not the case. We need stronger self-defense laws, not weaker ones.

  6. AnonymousNot Reply

    April 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Now this discussion just got exciting, but what do we expect when someone mentions “black?” I have long maintained that we in America spend far too much time weeping for African Americans. All it does is enable them to remain on the wrong side of the tracks as opposed to standing up for themselves and fighting out of the dark barrel of poverty and crime. That is not to say I agree with”starburst” for I do not accept her premise as written, because it’s a little more complicated than that. Let’s face it fellow liberals, if Mr. Martin were white there would be no Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson around to stir up the population.

  7. Lovinglynheavinglysent Reply

    September 22, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I am disgusted with the anger that has surfaced due to the stories spoken about on here. Who are ANY of you to sit and believe that YOU are more superior than the next…..ladies and gentlemen you have bowel movements, if you are cut you bleed and it turns red once it surfaces, there is a menstrual cycle monthly, to survive there must be food and water. I could go on and on but you get the picture. I’m not going to use the vocabulary of a highly educated black woman because now is time for honesty which I believe you ALL have failed to exercise but I will be respectful. No name calling etc. We as an American society is Lost and ignorant to facts the truth is the struggle with racism continues to this day because our children and grandchildren are being taught that equality does not exist, the many different types of people in the world categorize and judge. The rich, the middle, the lower and it all boils down to there are specific rules for specific people. Let’s quit playing favorites. Zimmerman was a hateful man, he deserves to die in jail. Close your eyes and let’s not think about color if it was your child how would you feel? McNeil deserves to go free and continue to be a father and husband he was providing protection. Close your eyes…..white black purple green Orange people would you allow a adult man to physically threaten your son/daughter and that man disregard your wish to end this safely but continue. What would you do? REMEMBER not to think about color. Racist thoughts and actions go on but its only because the cycle has not been broken and the world is ignorant to facts. Everyone has a judgement day and no matter what your religion is if you continue to walk the earth “believing” you are superior your tail is goin to burn in hell because your creator is the superior. All laws fit EVERYONE Rich poor and middleclass you break the law you should pay. I’m loving my honesty right now because the truth shall set you free .. someone is pissed off, someone is in agreement and someone just doesn’t understand. But its the truth. Money talks b.s. WALKS you get it…..but if the shoe is on the other foot silence is exercised. Good people right is right and wrong is wrong.
    *HEAVENLYBLESSED DAILY* YOU ALL B BLESSED AS WELL DON’T GO TO HELL

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