Cape murder suspect's case goes to arraignment

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

No one who saw Terry Vernon Lynn II die of a bullet to the head knew of any problems he had with his suspected killer, but each pointed a finger Tuesday from the witness stand at the man they say shot the 26-year-old college student behind Players Lounge.

A preliminary hearing for first-degree murder suspect Gregory Allen McNeely, 24, of Cape Girardeau was held in the Jackson courtroom of Associate Circuit Judge Gary Kamp. McNeely also is charged with armed criminal action in the Nov. 1 shooting death of Lynn.

Observers entered the small, crowded courtroom only after being searched with a metal detector by bailiffs.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle called to testify four of Lynn's friends who had been outside the bar. They were: Wade Fuller, 48, Amanda Ballance, 20, Chris Ivey, 22, and bartender Pam Semmler, 32. Each said Lynn argued earlier in the evening with Mike Jones, a friend of the defendant and Semmler's live-in boyfriend, but none saw Lynn have angry words with McNeely.

None could remember where others were standing at the time of the shooting. Fuller and Ivey also couldn't recall exactly how much they had to drink that night. Fuller appeared in an orange jail jumpsuit and shackles. He testified he had used methamphetamine earlier the day of the shooting. He is now in jail on a probation violation for using marijuana, he said.

McNeely apparently left the bar at one point, leaving behind his girlfriend, Ashley Kelly, witnesses said. Kelly was upset. When her boyfriend returned after the bar closed, she was in the parking lot inside Ballance's car with Lynn to catch a ride home.

Kelly and Lynn then got out of the car and she walked over to McNeely's vehicle, where they yelled at one another before she ran from his car screaming, "He's got a gun!"

Semmler, who was next to another car with a friend, said she saw McNeely holding a gun, heard a shot and then saw her friend drop.

"He fired a shot and I saw Terry fall to the ground," she said. "He'd been shot in the face. I hopped in the car and said, 'Go!' and went to call an ambulance."

Semmler said she went to the Rhodes 101 convenience store on South Sprigg Street to call 911. Everyone else ran away. Ballance used a nearby pay phone to call the police. She didn't go back.

Fuller ran home but did not call police. Ivey ran away, then returned to find his friend's body.

Cape Girardeau police detective Joe Tado said the slug from Lynn's head and the shell casing in the parking lot matched the gun found at McNeely's apartment hours later. He also described a small cut found on the defendant's right hand -- a tear consistent with a cut sometimes caused by a semiautomatic handgun when the slide action pulls back upon firing, he said.

But when defense attorney Stephen Wilson cross-examined Ivey, he testified the shooter used his left hand to fire.

Judge Kamp found probable cause existed for the charges against McNeely and bound the case over to the circuit court. McNeely's arraignment is set for Dec. 15.

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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