- Associated Press - Sunday, December 7, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The fiance of a woman who was raped and set on fire in a Wichita park said the man charged in the attack should have been behind bars for an earlier assault.

Cornell McNeal, 26, of Wichita, is jailed on a $1.25 million bond. He is charged with one count of capital murder or an alternative count of first-degree murder in the death of Letitia “Tish” Davis, who suffered from burns on more than half her body and cuts on her head in the Nov. 14 attack and died Nov. 22. His attorney hasn’t commented.

“He shouldn’t have been out,” Davis’ fiance, Marty Bell, said of McNeal.

Bell said he doesn’t understand what happened, according to The Wichita Eagle (https://bit.ly/1w2hg7A ). McNeal had been accused of pummeling his 52-year-old neighbor nine days before the attack on Davis but left a work-release facility two days before the park incident.

In the past seven years, McNeal has been accused of striking women in the face or on the head, stalking them or threatening them, but was never convicted of more than minor crimes, Wichita Municipal Court records show.

The incident involving the neighbor occurred the night of Nov. 5. The woman’s 911 call sent police to her house two doors from where McNeal lived. Later that night, police booked him into jail - not for the alleged battery of the neighbor but because he was wanted on a warrant for failure to appear in court in a child support case. It’s not clear how much longer McNeal might have remained in jail if he had been charged with battery or some other crime against his neighbor.

According to a police report, the neighbor told officers she was “punched and kicked.” The report classified the incident as a battery and said, “Prosecution desired.” An EMS crew responded, photos were taken and the suspect was contacted.

Deputy Chief Hassan Ramzah told the newspaper that officers responded to the neighbor’s call, documented the injuries and made the report. He said if a person wants to pursue charges in such an incident, it’s up to the individual to contact a night detective and request an appointment to review elements of the case and determine whether charges can be supported.

Bell, 59, said he and Davis had planned to marry in March. He said he talked to her on the phone while he was at work about two hours before she was attacked.

He said she was upset that night after an argument with a friend and was walking home from the friend’s house on a route that took her through the park.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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