- Associated Press - Friday, January 20, 2017

PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) - A Bluefield man has pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree murder with a recommendation of mercy in the 2014 shooting death of his estranged wife.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports (https://bit.ly/2jy3ucD) 27-year-old Michael Eugene Neel entered his guilty plea Thursday. Neel also pleaded guilty to a charge of attempt to commit first-degree murder.

Neel is accused of killing 20-year-old Kayla Neel and shooting her friend Dakota Walls while they were sitting in a truck in December 2014. A judge declared a mistrial in August after jurors were deadlocked on murder and attempted murder charges. Michael Neel said the shooting was accidental.

As part of the plea agreement the state agreed to a recommendation of mercy, meaning Neel could be eligible for parole within 15 years.

Judge William Sadler set a sentencing date in the case for March 13.


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