Husband found guilty of battering

Posted: Sunday, April 30, 2000

A Juneau jury on Friday afternoon found Daniel Neal of Hoonah guilty of raping and battering his wife.

After hearing the verdict, Neal, 48, collapsed with an apparent seizure, said Superintendent Dan Carothers of Lemon Creek Correctional Center. Alaska State Troopers took him to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

After Neal was treated at Bartlett, he was put on suicide watch at the state prison, Carothers said.

The jury of nine men and three women found Neal guilty on four counts -- three of first-degree assault and one of first-degree sexual assault. The indictment said Neal had indulged in ``reckless conduct'' and had ``manifested extreme indifference to the value of human life.''

All four charges stemmed from a Nov. 21 altercation with his wife, 46-year-old Darcy Neal, who testified the incident lasted an hour and a half.

Defense attorney Patrick Conheady did not return phone calls from the Empire after the verdict was announced. The Empire was unable to make contact with assistant district attorney David Brower.

``I'm satisfied with the verdict,'' said state Trooper Greg Garcia of Hoonah.

Annette Coggins, executive director of AWARE shelter for battered women, said the verdict is proof that efforts to change how battering cases are prosecuted are paying off.

Recent federal grants have paid to train police and prosecutors to handle domestic assault as a victimless crime, as they would murder -- where victims cannot testify, Coggins said.

In testimony during last week's trial, Darcy Neal tried to shift the blame for her injuries onto herself, contradicting her past statements to police and two grand juries. She claimed she had been abusing prescription drugs, drinking beer and sniffing cocaine the night she was hurt and she was actually the aggressor.

A witness on Wednesday said such denials are common among abuse cases and part of what is known as ``the recanting victim'' syndrome. A ``recanting victim'' may deny she has been abused or blame herself for the abuse, said mental health clinician Rose Piper.

``I think it's wonderful that the community worked hard to convict a rapist and batterer rather than putting the burden of proof on the victim,'' Coggins of AWARE said. ``It's only been in the last few years that the state has considered it a crime against the state and gone forward (to prosecute it) even if they have a reluctant and recanting victim.''

As a result of the altercation, Darcy Neal suffered broken collar bones, broken ribs, a broken jaw and cheek.

``She got hurt pretty bad,'' Hoonah police officer Christopher Gifford testified Tuesday. ``She couldn't sit down because of the pain,'' Gifford said.

While Daniel Neal continues on suicide watch, he is confined by himself in a stripped-down cell and is under 24-hour audio and visual camera surveillance, said Carothers of the state prison.

Daniel Neal's sentencing is scheduled for 8:15 a.m., June 21.

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