Mother of victim in ethnic intimidation case hopes conviction stands

"I’m hoping that all the evidence that was initially brought into open court, that it’s the same evidence that will be brought back into court to secure a second conviction in this appeal," Rose McNeil said. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

A now 18-year-old Brevard High School graduate has requested a jury trial in hopes of overturning a judge's conviction that he assaulted and spoke racial epithets to an African-American underclassmen last year.

Rose McNeil, who's son was the victim in the case, showed up to the Transylvania county courthouse Monday, knowing the case was slated for a jury trial this week.

"I’m hoping that all the evidence that was initially brought into open court, that it’s the same evidence that will be brought back into court to secure a second conviction in this appeal," McNeil said.

However, it seems the jury trial may get delayed because of heavy dockets on the court calendar. District Attorney Greg Newman said there are a number of felony cases that must take precedent during jury weeks such as this. He said the case that involves two misdemeanor convictions could get postponed, as it has during trial weeks before. However, Newman said he thinks it's an important case that should have the conviction stand, even if a jury hears the evidence.

"We understand this is an important case, to the black community, particularly in Brevard," Newman said. “We want to make sure that all our young people know any type of racially-charged comments are harmful. And, there was an assault here, as well. They need to know that behavior won’t be tolerated and there are consequences.”

McNeil said her son has suffered. The story has been in the local news and she said her son feels uncomfortable and uneasy about returning to Brevard High and will instead complete his junior year by doing online classes.

Court documents state the student convicted in the case, who was 17 at the time, swung a make-shift noose in the victim's direction in a lot adjacent to the school.

"I think if people don't continue to speak out about this it will continue to be shoveled under the rug," McNeil said.

She was also concerned Monday that she saw no black potential jurors in the jury pool sitting in the courtroom. She said she thinks having black and white jurors hearing the evidence is important.

"This is not just something that affects my kid, it's something that's worldwide. This is something that needs attention because it does exist," she said.

News 13 was unable to reach the 18-year-old's attorney, leaving a message at his office during work hours Monday.

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