Man accused of assault says wife hurt herself

Neal said his own health problems mad him unable to commit alleged attack

Posted: Friday, April 28, 2000

A Hoonah man accused of battering and raping his wife took the stand Thursday in Juneau Superior Court and said she hurt herself.

Daniel Neal, 48, was quizzed by Assistant District Attorney David Brower about his physical condition. Neal has claimed degeneration of his spine and hips, as well as shoulder surgery, prevented him from injuring his wife, Darcy, on Nov. 21 at their Hoonah home.

Brower asked him about his nightly basketball drills with the Hoonah Old-Timers, practicing for the Gold Medal tournament. Neal denied he had been able to play full court and made no reply to Brower's portrayal of him as ``a physical player.''

In her testimony, Darcy Neal had said her husband was jealous and accused her of being with another man that night. When questioned about these things by Brower, Daniel Neal denied all.

Darcy Neal suffered displaced fractures of both collar bones, fractured ribs, a broken cheek and jaw and severe bruising to her lower spine in the alleged altercation with her husband. She spent nine days in the hospital recovering.

Brower asked Neal if he saw any evidence, after their altercation, that she was injured.

``Her face was red; that's all I could see,'' Neal said.

Brower continued, ``After she charged you, did it appear that she had severe injuries?''

Neal answered, ``She was screaming and moaning and I screamed at her, `Darcy, please stop.' She was trying to kick me. I told her, `Just go to bed.'''

Brower asked Neal to translate the Tlingit prayer he had uttered at the Hoonah jail during questioning by police officer Chris Gifford. Neal translated: ``She went crazy because she was drinking alcohol. Lord, touch her heart; help heal her.''

So, Brower asked, ``What happened to Darcy Neal is her fault in your mind?''

``Because of alcohol and drugs ... she was out of control, kicking and falling against the wall.''

Neal denied he had ever kicked his wife, denied he had taken advantage of her injuries to drag her into a bedroom and rape her.

Defense attorney Patrick Conheady asked his client why he had told Gifford he wanted to die.

``I felt like I was having open heart surgery without an anesthetic. My heart was broken,'' Neal replied.

``Did you ever punch your wife on the night of the 21st?'' Conheady asked.

``No, I didn't,'' Neal said.

``Did you ever stomp on her with your feet?'' asked Conheady.

``No, I didn't,'' Neal answered.

Darcy Neal left the courtroom three times during the testimony.

The defense called chiropractor Daniel W. Holt, who has treated Daniel Neal for four or five years, to testify about Neal's lower back problems prior to Nov. 21, and right elbow and neck pain reported Jan. 18.

Holt testified that Neal's strength was ``maybe a little compromised because of past injuries.''

Daniel Neal, skipper of a halibut boat, was indicted by a grand jury on one count of first-degree sexual assault, referring to penetration without consent and disregarding a lack of consent. He was also indicted on three counts of first-degree assault stemming from the same incident.

In his instructions to the jury, Judge Larry Weeks said that if Daniel Neal had been drinking on Nov. 21 it would not erase his guilt. If Neal would have known when sober that his conduct was reckless, that conduct is still reckless during intoxication, Weeks said.

The jury of nine men and three women deliberated from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, and resumed their deliberations this morning at 8:15.

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