Neal sentenced to life without parole

UPDATE: Judge R.I. Pritchard has sentenced Howard Neal to life in prison without parole.

A Monticello man who has been on death row for over 25 years will be back in court in Lamar County Friday as his attorneys try and get his death sentence removed.

Howard Neal, 55, was convicted in 1982 in a triple homicide/double rape where the victims were his brother and two young girls, including his niece. Bobby Neal, his 13-year-old daughter Amanda Joy Neal, and her 14-year-old friend Melanie Sue Polk were found shot to death on a rural road in Lawrence County. The two girls had also been raped. Howard neal was later apprehended in California and convicted. He has been on death row since 1982.

Defense attorneys have maintained in appeals Neal is mentally retarded, and in 2003 the Supreme Court ruled its unconstitutional to execute mentally retarded defendants. In 2007, the state hospital at Whitfield found neal to be mentally retarded.

Defense attorneys will ask Judge R.I. Pritchard Friday to re-sentence Neal.