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Former Wilson native, John McNeil is a free man after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter to bring closure to his case. John McNeil was sentenced to life in prison for fatally shooting Brian Epp in the McNeil family’s Kennesaw, Georgia yard in 2005. However, Cobb county police ruled McNeil’s actions self-defense.

When asked what he wanted to do first, his response, simply “breathe freedom,” as he was surrounded by many of the supporters that fought to get him released.

McNeil’s plea was entered just days after his wife Anita his staunchest supporter died. Even as she waged her own personal battle with breast cancer, Anita McNeil maintained that her husband was only guilty of trying to protect his family.

According to court documents, McNeil’s teenage son called to say that there was a strange man in the backyard of the family’s home who had pulled a knife on him. McNeil rushed home. While en route, he called 911 to tell authorities all that had happened, court records indicate. Despite pleas from the operator to remain in his vehicle, McNeil got out of his car with a gun. An argument with Epp ensued. McNeil fired a warning shot into the ground. Epp moved toward McNeil in the driveway. McNeil shot and killed him.

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