Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Kevin Neal, Convicted of Murder by Forensic Entomology

No Smoking Gun

The evidence against Neal was mounting, but it was all circumstantial. There was no direct evidence linking him or anyone else to the crime — no "smoking gun," no bloody knife with the murderer's fingerprints, no eyewitnesses. Murder convictions had been achieved with nothing more than a circumstantial case, killers had even been put to death without direct evidence of their guilt. Still, although courts instruct jurors to give equal weight to direct and circumstantial evidence, the lack of a direct link can be troubling for some juries.

Building the state's case against Neal would take almost two years and involve nearly 5,000 pages of investigatory records and interviews with more than 170 persons. The case had long fallen off the front pages of the newspapers when Selvaggio announced in May 1999 that a Champaign County grand jury had indicted Kevin Neal on 11 criminal counts ranging from murder to kidnapping to gross abuse of a corpse in connection with the murders of his stepchildren. Selvaggio said he would seek the death penalty.

During his arraignment, Neal told his wife that he was innocent and that his accusers owed him an apology.

"You know damn good and well in your heart I didn't do this," Kevin Neal said before the brief hearing. "I'll prove it."

"I don't owe you nothing," Sue Neal replied.

To others, Sue Neal shared some of the blame.

"You shouldn't marry a rapist,'' said Rick Smith. "If you are a rapist, you shouldn't be allowed to get with someone that's got kids.''

 

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