Murder Suspect’s Girlfriend Testifies She Drove Him To Scene Of Crime
WILKES-BARRE — Murder suspect Antoine McNeal’s girlfriend took the stand Tuesday and testified she drove him to the scene of the crime to buy marijuana.
Testifying for the prosecution, Wakeelah Moore, 27, of Wilkes-Barre, said she drove McNeal to Nanticoke early the morning of Jan. 18, 2017, to buy marijuana from 20-year-old Brandon Smith — but she claimed to have no specific knowledge of what transpired after McNeal left the car.
McNeal, 34, is accused of setting up the meeting to buy $500 worth of marijuana from Smith and then shooting him dead during a drug robbery outside Smith’s West Church Street home.
Moore testified McNeal was only out of her car for about two minutes.
“He was running back to my vehicle,” Moore said. “He was just like, ‘We got to get out of here. They’re shooting.’”
However, Moore claimed McNeal never said who was shooting, and maintained she never asked.
Moore went on to describe how afterward, McNeal realized his cellphone was missing. They went back to the area to look for it, but were unable to find it, she said.
Prosecutors said the phone — which had Smith’s blood on it — was recovered from inside the vehicle where the drug deal and shooting took place.
During cross-examination by defense attorney Demetrius Fannick, Moore acknowledged she is charged with hindering the prosecution for allegedly hiding McNeal in her apartment. Moore, who maintained she did not know McNeal had been wanted on murder charges, reached a deal calling for her full cooperation in the case against McNeal, she said.
The defense maintains McNeal did show up to buy marijuana from Smith but did not kill him. Testimony from Smith’s mother on Monday established Smith was a drug dealer who had enemies from the Tunkhannock area because of his history of ripping people off.
During cross-examination, Moore gave that theory a boost when she claimed while she was driving in the area of Smith’s home McNeal referenced other people being in the area.
“Looks like he’s with someone already,” Moore quoted McNeal as saying.
Jurors on Tuesday also heard extensive forensic evidence and saw crime scene photos showing two bags of marijuana were left behind at the scene.
The day got off to a late start after juror No. 2 reported someone in the hallway made inappropriate contact as the jury was being escorted into the courtroom.
“They kept saying, ‘Innocent. Innocent. Innocent.’ as I was walking by,” she said.
The juror said she did not know who made the comments but assured the court the words would not impact her ability to remain impartial.
Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley polled the other jurors, but no others reported hearing the comments. The juror was allowed to remain on the panel, without objection.
The prosecution will continue its case this morning.
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