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Jericho Montrell Neal

Iredell County Rape Trial Gets Underway

The trial of a Mooresville man charged with raping a female classmate nearly six years ago is underway. The alleged incident occurred on the campus of Mooresville High School, when the defendant was 16-years-old and his accuser was 14-years-old. The defendant claims the sex was consensual.

Testimony in the trial of 22-year-old Jericho Montrell Neal began Tuesday (January 9) morning in Iredell County Superior Court following opening statements. According to the Iredell Free News, Assistant District Attorney Regina Mahoney told the jury that the evidence will prove that Neal is guilty of second-degree forcible rape. Witness testimony, Mahoney said during her opening statement, will show that Neal pushed the accuser to her knees and forced himself on her after they met in a stairwell in the Magnolia Building during class on the afternoon of March 6, 2018.

The teen told her mother about the alleged incident the next day and was examined at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. Neal was arrested six months later following an investigation conducted by the Mooresville Police Department.

According to the published report, during his opening statement, defense attorney Ken Darty offered a different version of the events of the day of the alleged sexual assault. According to Darty, Neal and his accuser were classmates and had forged a relationship by communicating through an online app over several months.

A jury of six men and six women, and two male alternates, was empaneled late Tuesday morning. After opening statements, Mahoney called the state’s first witness, Mooresville police Cpl. Craig Buda, to the stand.

Superior Court Judge R. Stuart Albright recessed the trial for the day at approximately 12:30 p.m., citing the severe weather forecast for the area. Testimony was scheduled to resume today (January 10).

[Story and photo of Neal courtesy of]