Jury recommends 30-year sentence in killing of high school football star

2013-06-12T18:15:00Z 2013-08-02T19:32:06Z Jury recommends 30-year sentence in killing of high school football starBy Jennifer Mann jmann@post-dispatch.com 314-621-5804 stltoday.com

ST. LOUIS   •   Jurors have recommended a 30-year prison sentence for a teenager convicted of murdering a high school football standout. 

Terron Pool was charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 24, 2010 slaying of Rahmel McNeil, 17.

But after a one-day trial, a St. Louis Circuit Court jury on Tuesday convicted him of second-degree murder, determining the killing was not deliberate. He was also found guilty of armed criminal action.

The jury spent Wednesday deliberating a potential punishment, and came back in the evening with a recommended 30 years on armed criminal action. It was unable to reach a decision on the penalty for the murder charge. At sentencing Aug. 2, Judge Rex Burlison will be able to go lower but not higher than the jury's recommendation. 

Pool, who was 15 at the time of the murder, was tried as an adult.

Assistant Circuit attorney Tanya Englehardt said McNeil and another teenager were in a fight in the 400 block of West Belle Place when Pool, a spectator, pulled out a handgun. She said as McNeil was backing away, the teen who was fighting him yelled to Pool, "Shoot him! Shoot him!"

   Terron Pool
   Terron Pool

Pool then allegedly shot at McNeil several times, hitting him twice in the torso.

A friend who was with McNeil stayed and called police as the group fled. He later identified Pool in a police lineup as the shooter. The friend testified that McNeil had pointed Pool out to him earlier that day as someone he had been having trouble with.

Defense attorney Joel Schwartz argued his client was wrongly identified as the shooter, and challenged the friend's reliability as a witness, suggesting he had gang ties. 

When questioned in court on his identification, the friend assured: "I'm sure. No doubt."

McNeil's sister testified her brother used to be friends with Pool, but once he started getting involved with sports, he gained a new set of friends. McNeil had been captain of Sumner High School's football team. The friend who was with him during his murder was one of his teammates. 

The other suspect in the fatal shooting, Rodnell Cotton, is set for trial later this month.

Jennifer Mann covers state courts and the criminal justice system. Follow j_s_mann on Twitter.

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