Rochester man accused in DV threatening case takes stand in his own defense

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Michael McNeil Jr. testifies on his own behalf to close out the evidentiary portion of his DV criminal threatening trial in Strafford County Superior Court on Tuesday. (Rochester Voice photo)

DOVER - A Rochester man and former Middleton Police Officer charged with felony criminal threatening took the stand in his own defense during his trial in Superior Court on Tuesday, telling jurors he never threatened his fiance during a June 12, 2019, argument inside their Flower Drive home.

"Did you ever threaten her?" asked defense counsel David Betancourt.

"Never," said an emotional Michael McNeil Jr.

Under questioning from Betancourt, McNeil said he and his girlfriend of 12 years, with whom he has a biological son, had been arguing in the kitchen over McNeil's suspicions she had been having an affair, and he'd left the room to grab a fresh shirt from the bedroom, explaining it was a warm June night and with all the emotion he'd been sweating profusely.

Once in the bedroom he said he continued to vent his frustration and said something like, "I'm gonna kill the motherfucker," referring to her suspected paramour.

"Where was (your girlfriend) at that point?" Betancourt asked.

"In the kitchen," McNeil replied.

He said he then put his personal Smith and Wesson handgun in his waistband, went into the kitchen and prepared to leave.

As he walked through the room, he said his girlfriend exclaimed, "He's got a gun!" but that he always carries it for personal protection, that it shouldn't have presented a threat to her. He noted he never removed it from his waistband or brandished it.

Prior to McNeil's emotional testimony, his 20-year-old stepdaughter took the stand corroborating his claim that he never threatened her mother.

She recalled that while in the bedroom she heard him say something like, "I'm gonna get that guy," again referring to her mother's suspected lover.

"Did he ever say he was going to murder your mother?" Betancourt asked.

"No," she said flatly.

Earlier in the day the alleged victim took the stand, saying that beginning early in 2019 she had decided she didn't want to stay in the relationship, but that they continued to live together.
She said the night of June 12 he was pressing her to admit she had been cheating on him, which she denied.

He said at one point he grabbed her wrist as she was in the bathroom getting ready for bed, and later broke a family painting that hung near the stairs and kicked their refrigerator as he grew more angry.

Under questioning from prosecutor Keith Blair, she said McNeil told her at one point, "Now I'm going to murder you" as he lifted his shirt and showed her a handgun.

Under cross-examination, however, Betancourt produced a detective's report filed the next day that said she said during their interview "He made some kind of threat, I can't remember the exact words."

Asked why the discrepancy in language she replied, "Now I have a clearer memory."

The trial is expected to wrap up today with closing arguments followed by jury instructions and deliberations.

McNeil faces up to seven years in state prison if found guilty.

He also faces two misdemeanor criminal mischief counts for breaking the picture and kicking the refrigerator and another for simple assault for allegedly grabbing her wrist.

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