After claiming self-defense in a fatal shooting back in 2005, John McNeil decided to plead guilty to manslaughter, and walked out of a Georgia prison on Tuesday night.
McNeil left the Cobb County Jail after spending nearly seven years incarcerated after authorities say he shot and killed a former contractor, Brian Epp, outside his Atlanta home.
McNeil was sentenced to 20 years, but was granted credit for the time he had served. The judge decided to allow him to serve the remaining 13 years on probation back in his hometown of Wilson, NC.
McNeil's wife, Anita McNeil, died on February 2nd of 2013 after battling breast cancer. For years, McNeil had been fighting for her husband's release from prison, citing the state's "Stand Your Ground"
Her husband was released nearly six weeks after her death.
A Wilson native was released from a Georgia prison after a guilty plea to a lesser charge this morning.
John McNeil was originally given a life sentence for the 2005 murder of a contractor working on the man's home. Even though witnesses said McNeil was attacked by a knife and testimony that he acted in self-defense, a jury found him guilty of murder.
McNeil's wife and NAACP leaders in Georgia and North Carolina waged a public relations campaign for his freedom after a Baldwin County judge ruled he was entitled to a new trial.
Today, McNeil pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. The judge sentenced him to twenty years, but gave him credit for time already served and put him on probation for 13 years.
McNeil will be allowed to return to Wilson.
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