News 12's Chris Thomas got an exclusive interview with Joe Neal Jr. after his trial was continued on Monday. (WRDW-TV / April 30, 2012)
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Well-known Augusta attorney Joe Neal Jr. was in court for day two of the trial of his life -- with him at the center of it all.
Neal is facing charges of rape and giving alcohol to someone under 21. This all started last December when an 18-year-old babysitter told investigators Neal gave her drugs and alcohol before making sexual advances.
Neal's attorneys admit alcohol and drugs were present at the Neal home on the night of Friday, Dec. 16, 2011.
"She didn't even know she had sex until he messed up and texted her the next day," said lead Prosecutor Geoffrey Fogus in opening statements. "He could not stop pursuing her. He did what he pleased, and that night he was pleased to have a threesome and take advantage of an intoxicated 18-year-old."
But the defense insists Neal is no rapist.
"He has committed many moral wrongs," said Defense Attorney Tom Withers. "Caroline Neal told the state last week that no rape occurred, but they are prosecuting that man for rape."
This could all hinge on if the victim was too intoxicated to consent.
The defense admits the evidence may be embarrassing, but they say Neal is innocent.
Opening arguments began at 3:30 p.m on Tuesday, and court was out within the hour.
Family members found themselves entertaining the possibility of some sort of a deal after most of the morning was spent behind closed doors, wading through boxes of books, binders and documents, trying to pin down what will make it to court in a sensitive rape case.
"At some point, people sit down and try to weigh their options and consider things," said Christian Steinmetz III, Neal's brother-in-law.
The prospects of such a deal seemed to dissipate as the day came to a close.
Neal is putting his home up for lease with one, three and five year leases available for $5,000 a month starting on July 1.
When asked to comment about the case, Neal only would say this, "I've been OK, that's my only comment, OK? We are going to try our case in the courtroom. Can you respect that?"
It is fair to say this family's trials started long before Neal made his appearance in court.
"This has put the family through hell. This has really put the family through hell because it's a bull**** case," Steinmetz said.
Neal's ex-wife, Caroline Neal, was arrested on battery and family violence charges. She pleaded not guilty earlier this year.
Court will resume at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Stay tuned to News 12 for the latest developments.