Guilty verdict comes in minutes

A handcuffed Delbert Earl McNeill Jr. of Wynnewood (right) talks to attorney Phillip Morton after jurors found him guilty of drug trafficking during a trial this week in a Pauls Valley courtroom. (PV Democrat photo by Barry Porterfield)

It took just a few minutes, 22 in all, for a jury to deliberate and find a Wynnewood man guilty of drug trafficking.

This week's verdict by an 11-man, one-woman jury was for Delbert Earl McNeill Jr., 56, who was arrested last year and found to be concealing a couple dozen grams of methamphetamine in his mouth.

What was different about this jury trial wrapping up Jan. 15 in a Pauls Valley courtroom was McNeill represented himself for most of the proceeding only receiving limited help from defense attorney Phillip Morton, who served in an advisory capacity.

McNeill, a former stand-up comic and entertainer who went by the name of Po Lightning, said he wasn't unhappy with Morton; he simply wanted to step up to serve as his own attorney.

During his own closing arguments McNeill even admitted to jurors his own guilt in this case.

“I am guilty,” McNeill said shortly before the trial stretching into a third day finally wrapped up in Garvin County District Court.

“I had it in my mouth, but why did I have it in my mouth. My destiny of my freedom is in your hands,” he said to jurors basically throwing himself on the mercy of the court.

Ben Betts, an assistant district attorney in Garvin County, then used McNeill's closing comments as the state's final reminder to jurors of the defendant's guilt.

“The defendant is guilty. He just told you that he did it,” Betts said.

“He's been in the meth game a long time. When he's not in jail he's running around in the meth game.”

Less than a half hour after being led from the courtroom the 12 jurors returned with a guilty verdict and a recommended sentence of 20 years in prison and a $200,000 fine, which is what Betts requested in his arguments.

McNeill appeared relaxed and had a smile on his face when jurors returned with their decision. He then nearly took the trial right to the sentencing phase.

“I'll waive that,” McNeill told District Judge Leah Edwards as he was told about a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) normally done after a defendant is convicted.

“The sooner I go the better,” he said, referring to his new prison term. “Can I get sentenced today?”

After getting some advice from Morton the defendant changed his mind about that request.

“I reconsider that thought and do request a pre-sentence investigation.”

The judge then ordered a PSI to be conducted, while McNeil's official sentencing is now scheduled for early March.

The trafficking charge against McNeill comes from an early morning traffic stop back on March 21, 2019.

McNeill was in a truck pulled over at an Interstate 35 rest area a few miles south of Wynnewood.

After a K-9 dog alerted to the possibility of illegal narcotics a Garvin County deputy conducted a more thorough frisk of McNeill, where he testified to feeling a “large lump” in his coat pocket.

A struggle ensued as McNeill, the deputy and a state trooper at the scene went down a muddy incline by the highway.

The two law enforcement officers got McNeill into custody before seeing a “blue piece of plastic” in his mouth, which when finally spit out revealed it contained around 28 grams of meth.

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you