Trial Set To Begin In Drug Robbery Killing

January 5, 2019

WILKES-BARRE — Attorneys on Friday picked a jury and opening statements are set for Monday in the case of a Wilkes-Barre man accused of killing a man during a drug robbery in Nanticoke.

Antoine McNeal, 34, is accused of murdering Brandon Smith, 20, who was shot dead outside his West Church Street, Nanticoke, home on Jan. 18, 2017. Prosecutors allege McNeal killed Smith after meeting him to buy marijuana.

The prosecution recently succeeded in adding a robbery charge against McNeal based on recorded jailhouse phone calls in which McNeal referenced Smith having 30-milligram oxycodone pills in his pocket at the time of the shooting.

“The (expletive) had other drugs in his pocket so evidently someone else was coming to see him besides me,” prosecutors have quoted McNeal as saying.

Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley granted the prosecution request over the objections of the defense, which maintained the additional charge would severely alter the case. However, the judge pushed back the trial date of Dec. 3 to give the defense time to adapt.

Opening statements are now scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Monday.

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