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Ex-Hoops Player Convicted of Murder

February 2, 1999

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) _ Howard McNeil, who played at Seton Hall in the 1980s, faces up to 70 years in prison after being convicted in the stabbing death of a suspected prostitute to steal her drugs.

A Montgomery County jury Monday found McNeil guilty of third-degree murder in the death of Frances Brennan, an alleged drug dealer. Police said Brennan’s skull was cracked when she was pushed into a wall before being stabbed to death. McNeil also stole a safe filled with drugs from the house, prosecutors said.

The 39-year-old McNeil was found guilty of related drug and theft charges, but not convicted on more serious first- and second-degree murder charges.

``But he’s facing enough time to keep him in jail for the rest of his life,″ Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Davidoff said. ``And that’s what we’ll be seeking.″

McNeil was a star basketball player for Abington High School in the 1970s. In 1976, he shot a friend in the head with a handgun at a Valentine’s Day party. He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and avoided jail.

After his career at Seton Hall, he was drafted in 1982 by the Los Angeles Lakers, but wound up playing for 10 years in Greece, Argentina and Portugal.

McNeil’s attorney, Stephen Jarrett, said he expected to appeal.

Jarrett had said his client confessed to the crime only after investigators supplied him with details about the killing, and that McNeil took the safe before Brennan was killed, the lawyer said.

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