Haunted by past, Neeley faces more prison time


On March 24, MPR broadcast an interview with Terrence Neeley and his sister Helena. The two (pictured at right – photo by Steve Mullis) spoke out against the gun violence that took their younger sister Alisha in 2010. Neeley was in prison serving a sentence for a violent crime at the time of his sister’s killing.

Neeley told All Things Considered host Tom Crann that he still fights the impulse to seek revenge against the person who killed his sister. But he says he’s smarter now and non-violent.

However, Neeley didn’t tell Crann that a few weeks before the interview, on March 5th, he was arrested by Minneapolis police for possessing a .45 caliber handgun. According to court records, Neeley was released without charges. But a few months later, federal law enforcement officials built a case against Neeley and had him arrested and jailed. In July, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging him with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted and given the maximum sentence, Neeley will spend another 10 years in prison.

Neely’s trial is scheduled to start September 19th. The court record contains a three-page, handwritten letter from Neeley to the magistrate judge, asking him for a conditional, pre-trial release. Neeley says he wants to continue his anti-violence advocacy and take care of his family. In the letter, Neeley talks about how gun violence has affected his life. In addition to losing his younger sister to a shooting, Neeley writes that he himself was shot in the back of the neck in 2009.

Neeley ends his letter with this:

“I don’t run from my problems. I face them all as I am the creator of them all. But I hate how a past can haunt one. I have a future so bright that it burns my eyes to look at it. Sincerely your honor, please give me the chance and opportunity.”

This Friday, Aug. 26th, at 2 p.m. Neeley will appear in front of Magistrate Judge Tony Leung in St. Paul for a hearing that will determine if Neeley stays in jail before his trial, or goes home.

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