ATLANTA (WAOK)-National and local NAACP officials will join civil rights activists and local elected officials in Atlanta on Monday to rally for the freedom of John McNeil.

McNeil, a successful African American businessman in Cobb County, Georgia, has been in prison since 2006 because of what some would call protecting his home and others called the murder of a white contractor.

McNeil, had contracted Brian Epp to build his home but reported several disagreements with the contractor. McNeil told police he received a call from his son that a man he did not know was trespassing in the backyard of the family’s home. The son asked the man, later identified as Epp, to leave the property but told his father Epp threatened him with a knife.  McNeil called police and returned to his home to protect his son. McNeil fired a warning shot into the ground and warned Epp to leave but instead McNeil and other witnesses said Epp aggressively approached McNeil while reaching inside of his clothing for a weapon.

John McNeil shot and killed Brian Epp. Police confirm a weapon was found in Epp’s pocket at the scene.

Despite the investigating officers’ report that McNeil did not commit a crime, 274 days later, a Cobb County district attorney charged McNeil with murder. McNeil was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

When the case was appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court only Justice Leah Ward Sears dissented.

On Monday, September 10, NAACP President and CEO, Benjamin Todd Jealous; NAACP Georgia State Conference President, Edward Dubose; WAOK talk show host and civil rights activist, Derrick Boazman will join Tyrone Brooks, President of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials;  Reverend Major Mostellar, State President Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and others at a rally to demand justice and freedom for John McNeil.

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said, “ Unfortunately, this court and prosecutor  – who overruled local police to pursue this case – is more influenced by Georgia’s legacy of racism than current law.  This appears to be opportunism on the part of the prosecutor.  I find it curious that no white man is serving time under similar circumstances in the state.”

NAACP officials are also expected to visit McNeil in prison on Monday before the rally.

The rally will take place on the steps of the Georgia State Capitol Monday at 1:00 p.m.

Read more about the John McNeil case here

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