Wife reverses testimony in rape, battering trial

Posted: Wednesday, April 26, 2000

In the second day of the trial of accused Hoonah rapist and batterer Daniel Neal, the victim said she was the guilty party.

Neal, 48, was indicted in February on one count of first-degree sexual assault, alleging sex acts without consent of his wife, Darcy Neal, in the early morning of Nov. 21.

He also was indicted earlier on three charges of first-degree assault stemming from the same incident, in which his wife suffered bruises, broken collar bones, broken ribs, a broken jaw and cheek, and was hospitalized for nine days.

On Monday, the first day of the trial in Juneau Superior Court, Hoonah Police Officer Michael Mills testified Darcy Neal initially told him she fell down stairs.

Later, at the Hoonah clinic, she told Mills her husband of 17 years had beaten her. Darcy Neal also told the grand jury about the beating by telephone - from Bartlett Regional Hospital.

And months later she told the grand jury her husband had sex with her without her consent after the beating, which left her unable to resist.

But Darcy Neal had a different version of the events when she testified Tuesday morning.

She was ``stoned and drunk'' from a combination of prescription drugs, beer and cocaine that night, she said. She heard a thump near the Hoonah school while driving her Blazer home from a karaoke party, but saw nothing, she said.

When Daniel Neal asked where she had been and said she had hit him with their Blazer, she ``charged him,'' she said. ``With all the drugs and beer and cocaine, I was fighting like the dickens,'' she said.

She said she had fallen on her front steps, striking her face against an ice chest. Struggling with her husband, she had run into tall chests of drawers, she had fallen into the bathtub and she had ``bounced off the walls.''

All he had done during this period was ``try to restrain'' her and put her to bed, Darcy Neal testified.

``You have never testified to (his trying to restrain you) before,'' Assistant District Attorney David Brower said.

``No,'' Darcy Neal said. ``But I remember now because I have been taking anti-depressants and they have helped me piece together most of what happened that night.'' Her recollection now was that ``I was the aggressor that night,'' she said.

Defense attorney Patrick Conheady noted she called him March 22 to retract her grand jury statements, and subsequently gave statements to an investigator. Conheady suggested that a break-in and sexual assault at her residence about 1985 had become confused in her mind with the 1999 incident.

Darcy Neal said she often had flashbacks of the 1985 assault, that she had been on morphine Nov. 26 and ``barely'' remembered her grand jury testimony then.

On Feb. 18, alleging rape to the grand jury, Darcy Neal said, ``I guess a person that's been beaten like I have, they still try to protect their partner. And I didn't want to see him in trouble at that time, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I'd better come forward. I don't want this to happen to anybody else,'' she testified then.

In Tuesday's session, the jury heard also tapes made by Hoonah police officer Robert Haskell. On one tape, Daniel Neal sobbed for nearly three-quarters of an hour, with occasional exclamations such as ``I just want to die. I can't go on.''

``You seem like a pretty good guy,'' Haskell told him. ``And I think alcohol might have had something to do with it. ... Were you drinking yesterday?''

Daniel Neal told Haskell he had started drinking again two weeks before the incident.

The trial continues today.

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