Tyler mall parking lot shooter sentenced to life in prison
POSTED: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 11:05am
UPDATED: Monday, June 9, 2014 - 9:24am
Tyler, Texas (KETK) — The man found guilty of killing Chapel Hill native Christopher Mass in the Tyler mall parking lot was sentenced to life in prison by a Smith County jury on Tuesday morning.
Ricky Neal, Jr., was found guilty of murder on May 7. He will be up for parole in 30 years, according to Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham.
The verdict stems from the shooting death of Mass, February 9, 2013, in the Broadway Square Mall parking lot. In addition to the murder charge, authorities placed an additional charge against Neal after police determined he shot at Jonathan Lamone Dews, 29, of Tyler. The aggravated assult charge will be tried separately.
According to Tyler police, around 9:15 a.m. the mornong of February 9, officials were dispatched to a shooting in the mall's parking lot near J.C. Penny.
Authorites say Neal and his girlfriend went to the mall to buy shoes at Champs on February 9. As they entered the mall, Neal noticed a group of men, one of which he had an issue with prior about "Tweeting" his girlfriend on the popular social media site, Twitter. A confrontation ensued between Neal and another man from the group inside the mall. The confrontation continued to the parking lot.
According to authorities, Neal then pulled out a gun and shot the victim, later identified as Mass multiple times, killing him. Mass was a former Chapel Hill High School football and basketball player. He attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, where he also played football.
According to Officer Don Martin with the Tyler Police Deparment, Neal was cooperative with authorities, and was taken into custody.
The prosecution is asking for a life sentence for Neal, while the defense is requesting up to 20 years behind bars.