ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) – Testimony began in an emotionally-charged courtroom as the murder trial of LaMaree Wilson-Neuleib began Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. The teen is accused of shooting into a car parked on a residential street in Moline, in May, 2015. The driver of the car, 18-year-old Zachary Phillips, was killed and the front-seat passenger, Erik Roberson, was permanently injured.
During the morning session, jurors heard from a police officer, a paramedic and an eyewitness, Matthew Merrill, who was a back-seat passenger during the shooting. On the stand, Merrill gave his account of what happened and identified Wilson-Neuleib as the gunman. The paramedic also testified that Roberson was screaming, “It was LaMaree”.
In the afternoon, jurors heard from an emergency room physician, two more eyewitnesses, and two officers with the Moline Police Department.
Dozens of people were in the courtroom with ties to the murder victim. Many of them were seen crying during the testimony. While the prosecution showed ER photos of the victim, audible sobs could be heard.
Wilson-Neuleib initially pleaded guilty to charges and was sentenced to 60 years in prison; however, he withdrew his plea and asked for the trial.
The Rock Island County prosecutor has described the shooting as a drug deal that went bad.