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Sally McNeil

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Old Surehand:
Here's Part 1 of an interview from 2009:
In April 1996, professional bodybuilder Sally McNeil was given a sentence of 19 years-life for the shotgun slaying of her husband (and fellow bodybuilder) Ray McNeil.

It was no secret that Sally and Ray had a volatile relationship and had fought violently on many occasions, mostly triggered by Ray's many affairs with other women. However, on Valentine's Day 1995 the fight between the pair (reportedly about the cost of the chicken Ray was cooking) would be their last.

Sally McNeil was convicted of second-degree murder and sent to prison. Court records from the time state that she was not given the chance to argue that the death was manslaughter and that she was indeed ‘psychologically damaged' from Ray's abuse.

Up until now, little has been heard from Sally (for obvious reasons!). However, for the first time ever, we present to you Sally's full  account  of events on that fateful night.  We also get some insight as to how she's feeling today and what her plans are for when she's finally released...

First of all, for those unfamiliar with your case, tell us when you were arrested and how long your prison sentence was?

"I was arrested early in the morning of 15th February 1995. The police took me in after I called 911. They questioned me, my children and neighbors all through the night. On 19th March 1996 I was found guilty of 2nd degree murder and on 19th April 1996 I was sentenced to 19 years to life.

"In the state of California, lifers do not get half time. Once we have done 85% of our time we go in front of a Parole Board to see if they will grant Parole. I knew a woman named Lori Sue who did 31 years on a 7 to life...a woman named Karen did 24 years on a 15 to life sentence. I have been incarcerated now for 13 years."

In your absence from the scene how do you feel about the way you have been presented on the Internet?

"From the stuff my friends send me, I have not been represented fairly on the Internet. I should never have done that Teagan Clive interview in 1996 after I was convicted of 2nd degree murder. I wanted to tell my side of the story, so I told her what really happened. She put what I said sure, but underneath it she put the DA's version of events and his motive was to win at all costs. My military (Sally is a former marine) health records were mysteriously incomplete. All the injuries I suffered were not mentioned.

"Ray was very insecure and this made him very jealous. He was afraid of losing me to somebody who would have treated me better. He broke my little toe in Okinawa, Japan when he threw me out of the bath tub. He broke my nose when he punched me in the face because I told him the reason my shoulders were not developed (or ‘weak' as he said) was because he wrenched my shoulder so badly. At this time I didn't know he partially tore my rotator cuff. I should not have been lifting weights or bodybuilding as the doctor told me that the injury I had was a career destroyer for a bodybuilder. I was determined not to give up though and was in denial about how bad it really hurt.

"I reported the injury but didn't tell the doctors what really happened so they didn't do an x-ray. I was afraid of getting Ray into trouble. I was afraid of losing Ray. Looking back I realize I was a classic case of Battered Wife Syndrome. I was in denial that Ray was abusive to me. My self esteem was so low. I didn't think I could attract another man like Ray. I felt I was lucky to have him."

 

Your life with Ray seems to have been very turbulent. Did you ever consider leaving him before events escalated the way they did?

"My life with Ray was very turbulent. I left him about three times and he followed me to my new address. I was preparing to move back east where I was brought up and to the home I grew up in, but I didn't make it. Looking back, I should have left him after the 3rd day of our marriage. He beat me up because the Warrant Officer who was in charge of me told Ray he should not have married me because I was ‘used goods'. Ray got mad because I had dated two other guys before I met him. I was beaten up unmercifully. This beating was unprovoked on my side."

 

The violence in your relationship has been linked by some to anabolic steroid use, care to comment...

"Yes, anabolic steroid use was the root of Ray's violence towards me. When Ray and I first got married in 1987, I had no idea that he was on steroids. So I did not know that he was suffering from ‘roid rage' when he'd fly off the handle and beat the holy hell out of me. He threw me across the room when he saw me talking to another guy when I was at work. He picked me up like a rag doll the minute we got home and just threw me across the room. He broke my coccyx bone in my back tail bone. This injury still bothers me. My back is always going out on me. It hurts to sit down. When I get up from being seated it takes about 10 steps before I can loosen up and straighten up. It is hard to lift things.

"Over in Okinawa, Japan where we lived off base, Ray beat me over 52 times in that year over there because he was having roid rages. One of those times was because I would not write a list of all the men I had dated...Ray choked me three times, on the third time I had spasms. When I came around I ran out of our apartment in my bra and bike pants. I hid in the bushes, more afraid of Ray than the poisonous snakes that lived there. Ray called to me and apologized to me. He confessed he was on steroids and had been having a ‘roid rage'. He said he had no idea what he did to me. So that was my introduction to steroids. I was so new to the sport at that time that I did not know about steroids.

"Ray's toxicology reports state that he had 5 different steroids in his system. I was not on steroids at the time of the incident. I had used Deca Durabolin for the Nationals in September of 1994, so I tested positive for Deca because it stays in the system up to 18 months. There have been many female athletes in bodybuilding that were disqualified at the North America for testing positive for Deca. I did not use a lot of steroids. I had bills to pay and children to take care of. My priorities were straight. The children came first. I did not want the bad side effects females can get. I never used testosterones because they cause facial hair, male pattern baldness and a voice as deep as Barry White. I have no side effects from over using steroids. I would be a misfit in prison if I had to shave my face or had male pattern balding and a very deep voice."

It has been reported that Ray had several affairs during the course of your marriage. Many women would have left him for that reason alone. Why did you choose to stay?

"Yes Ray had many affairs. I tried to stick through it, thick or thin, for better or worse. He always came back to me. Once these women realized Ray couldn't leave me they left him. Some woman (name deleted) had an abortion according to Ray because he couldn't leave me. I should have left him because one thing I was afraid of was catching HIV, AIDS, Hep C or any kind of STD.

I could give you a long list of women Ray had affairs with - one of them even had the nerve to testify against me during my trial. Yes I should have left him but my self esteem was so beaten down by him that I thought he was the best I could get."

You have often been portrayed as the ‘bully' and provoker in your marriage. How do you feel about this?

"I was not the bully or provoker in my marriage. If a guy is beating you up because he mistrusts you, wouldn't you be angry when you discover he is fooling around on you?

"I wasn't jealous, I was deathly afraid of catching a disease such as HIV, Hep C or some awful STD as I said before. I didn't deserve that. I did nothing to deserve the beatings Ray handed out. I believe Ray's homosexual boyfriends (names deleted) made me out to be the bully. I would never provoke a 260lbs professional bodybuilder. One time when I hit Ray back after he brutally beat me it made the beating worse. He broke my rib and punctured my lung. My military records have this injury reported. On that final night I felt as though I would not survive that choking or throughout the night. I panicked. Ray weighed 260lbs a hundred pounds more than me.

"Ray's boyfriends lied about me during the trial. I have proof. One of them said he spotted me benching 255lbs...that is not true. In power lifting the most I ever benched was 225lbs. The DA pulled so many pages out of my military health records it is unreal...he even pulled the births of my children.

"Men who cheat are insecure so they accuse us women of cheating because they feel if they are cheating so are you. One of Ray's boyfriends (name deleted) lived with us for almost two years. I asked Ray to please tell him to move out. He was mean to my children. He would lock them out of the house when I was not home. He and Ray must have been in the apartment having sex and didn't want to get walked in on by my children or caught in the gay act.

"Due to the fact that I was the reason Ray's boyfriend had to move out of the apartment (I refused to take care of two grown men!) he lied when he testified against me. He actually saw Ray beat me on many occasions. One time I begged him for help and he didn't lift a finger. It seemed to me that he encouraged Ray's abusive behavior towards me. I did not deserve to be abused and mistreated. Ray's boyfriends all lied on the witness stand...and the DA allowed it."

 

Coming up next....Sally talks about that fateful night in detail and discusses her life in prison and her plans for the future.

N.B. Sally welcomes correspondence from RX readers. You can write to her at the following address:

Sally M. McNeil

W# 62688

VSPW D1- 5-3 LOW

PO BOX 92

Chowchilla

CA 93610 0092

Old Surehand:
Here's Part 2:
In part one of this story, Sally recalled her life with husband Ray and gave us some insight into the trauma and abuse she was subjected to throughout their marriage. Now in part two Sally reflects on that fateful night when she shot Ray and talks about prison life and her hopes for the future.

So, continuing from where we left off, the final confrontation between Ray and yourself is often trivialized and your actions are said to have been triggered by the cost of a chicken he was cooking for dinner. There must have been more to it than that. Can you tell us exactly what went on during that fateful night.....?

"On that night Ray attacked me, I did not provoke the incident. He started yelling at me because I was in the bathroom putting on make-up. I am allowed to put on make-up if I want to go out to a night club. He did not want me to go out to a club because I might meet somebody and leave him. That is what initiated the incident. Somehow the DA changed the story around..."

Of course there are many people who would say "why didn't you just call the cops?" instead of resorting to shooting him...

"With all the steroids Ray was on he created the Frankenstein effect. He was inhuman and he would do whatever it took to stop me from calling the cops. If I would have been able to get to a phone and press charges he would have missed the Florida Pro Invitational. He was four weeks out from that show so he was full of anabolic steroids.

"My children witnessed what happened. He would have killed them too. My daughter testified on my behalf, kids don't lie. The D.A. said....'Look at her, what a beautiful daughter. Ray is not her biological father; any daughter would lie for their mother.' He couldn't trip her up because she didn't lie, so without addressing her he called her a liar."

How do you feel you were treated in court?

"Everything that was positive about being a marine was used against me. I served my country honorably. Now when it was time to defend myself I was considered a murderer. Being a marine is what saved my life. There was no way I was going to end up like those five wives that were killed by their husbands when they came back from Afghanistan. I bet their wives were not choking the daylights out of them or trying to break their necks.....I wonder what became of those five army men suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

 

After shooting Ray you gave the gun to a neighbor and called 911 to report the incident. This may be considered unusual by some since many people would have just ran at that point....

"Running is a sign of guilt. I faced the music. I believed in the justice system at that point, however the DA didn't want to hear the truth, he just wanted to win at all costs. My children suffered because of that. I might as well have let Ray kill me that night...my children lost their mom anyway. Even though I survived, I still lost my life with my children whom I love dearly."

 

The fact that there were finger nail marks on your neck on the night of the shooting could have indicated self-defense. However, on exhuming Ray's body it was found that his finger nails were too short to have inflicted damage. It was therefore ‘presumed' that the marks were self-inflicted. Could you tell us more about this?

"Do you think I would just lie there and let Ray choke me to death? If the finger nail marks were mine they were from me trying to get Ray's hands from around my neck. Did you know that there were circular scratches on the back of my neck? I have no idea why this was never mentioned. It shows that a scuffle occurred and Ray had me down on the floor."

 

Little is made of the abuse you suffered at Ray's hands. A culmination of repeated events of abuse would make anyone want to retaliate. Do you feel that you have been unfairly treated by the legal system in this respect?

"Yes, I was given an unfair trial. I had a Battered Woman Syndrome expert testify that it was a classic case of a woman suffering from BWS which stems from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was not able to use the fact that Ray had 5 different steroids in his toxicology report. They said there was no medical evidence to prove that steroids cause ‘roid rage'. Steroids are a class 3 drug; it is against the law to use them without prescription. If you get caught with steroids you get arrested just as if you had coke, meth, heroin, pot, opiates, crack etc.

"People committed purgery on the witness stand...that is a fact. Ray cruelly beat me for eight years, over 400 beatings got swept under the rug and, as always, Ray blamed me for his abuse towards me. I did not provoke Ray to beat me. I pleaded with him NOT to beat me. I would try to run to get away. On one occasion I jumped out of a second story window...I got hurt but he jumped out of the window after me and beat me unmercifully for running from him and making him jump out of the window.

"There was no escape from Ray. He had world class speed. He could run 40 yards in 4.3. He could bench 505lbs. What could I do against that?"

How are you adapting to prison life? What is helping you get through this difficult time?

"I have adapted to prison life, but I will never fit in. The Marine Corps prepared me for prison life. I have discipline and respect for authority.

"When I first came to prison everybody wanted to fight the bodybuilder and get a nitch on their belt saying they beat up the bodybuilder...but the bodybuilder was refusing to fight! I could have put them in a headlock and it would have been all over. If somebody attacks you and you defend yourself and a C.O. catches you fighting, you get written up for mutual combat. After the D.A.screamed to the media that I am the most violent person he ever tried, I saw the writing on the wall. If I protected myself and beat these women down I would be put in front of the parole board. There would be no report that the 5' 10", 280lbs ‘she cow' attacked me for my personal belongings. I would never be able to be granted parole. Now I can't even put up my hands to protect myself from violent attacks. At least with Ray I could put my hands up and try to protect my face and teeth or possibly get to the phone and call the police. Here, if you call for help you could get a write-up for behavior that could lead to violence.

"What has helped me get through prison is the hope of a successful appeal, my family and the love of my children. Also friends I made in the wrestling world and a few from the bodybuilding world. Most bodybuilders turned on me because their ugly secret was revealed about the abuse of steroids and the violence it can lead to. Nobody in the bodybuilding world is going to admit that steroids make them aggressive because if they do their career in bodybuilding is gone. In Ray's case, he had violent tendencies, the steroids simply magnified them."

 

Are you able to exercise in prison?

"They took the weights away in 1997 because the men were getting too big for the C.O.'s to handle. They have pull-up bars, dip bars, ab wheel roller and a push up bar. There is also a track where we can run.

"I weigh 145lbs right now. I am still a lean mean fighting machine!!! I have made my own weights with 1 and 2 ½ gallon jugs filled with water and pebbles. I have to exercise for physical therapy because Ray destroyed my back and right shoulder. He partially tore my rotator cuff over in Japan because it took me too long to come back from doing the wash. He yanked me down to the ground by my right hand to gain control of me to choke me out and put fear in me that he could kill me at any time."

 

Do you have any idea when you may finally be released?

"In California it is very very hard to be granted a parole date. The politicians use us as political pawns to show the public that they are tough on crime, so that they can get re-elected. There is no self defense law in California, not like in other states. If I was living in Texas or Pennsylvania I would not have received a murder sentence. I took Ray's life and know I deserve to do prison time."

 

What are your goals for your life after prison and will you ever compete again?

"My goals in life for now are focused on gaining my freedom and being re-united with my family. I will be too old to compete when I get out. I am not too old to stay in shape though. I can train people. I have my mind, so I can teach people how to wrestle and make good wrestling videos."

Sally McNeil welcomes letters from © Saradas readers. You can send them to:

Sally M. McNeil

W# 62688

VSPW D1- 5-3 LOW

PO Box 92

Chowchilla

CA 93610 0092


 
     

 

cybrwrld666:
Pretty f**king sad. I feel she's done her time, but it's not to me. I wish we could return to a country and world where people semi-give a shit about others if they have paid the price. Hope she gets out sometime. The country is run by idiots and a shitty elite class who care nothing about people.....only making sure that they themselves are in power, and that there is enough money to keep THEM going....look at the debt situation.....a MAJOR problem and nobody is willing to sacrifice shit.  The founding fathers are turing in their graves. Rome part 2.

cybrwrld666:
err.....i meant" it's not for me to give the final say"....spelling :)

javert:
americas fucked up for prison... one thing ive learned from tv you do not want to end up in an american jail! having said that i do believe uk is too soft with murderers and rapists getting out after 12 years...

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