BEATEN, BATTERED AND DAMNED

THE DRANO MURDER TRIAL
ROBERT B. FRENCH, JR.

September 28, 1982, 9:32 a.m., Lisa Ann Millican, a 13-year-old run-away from a Georgia orphans home, was standing in the wind, 2″ from the edge of a 430 foot precipice. She had been raped for two days by a fat man, and injected 6 times with Drano. In minutes, she will be shot in the back, and pushed over the edge. Alvin N eelley will then be ready to entice another female to rape and kill. I was forced to represent the killer, Neelley’s 18-year-old wife, Judith Ann – Capital Murder. In Alabama, being a Republican, I was punished for my politics. Out of law school less than 30 days, I had been forced to represent a KKK in one of the worst capital, racially motivated, gang rape cases in Alabama history. N eelley was my 17th murder or rape case at my personal expense. Costly politics. I met a very pregnant Judith Ann Neelley with a mutual loathing and distrust Judith would not cooperate in her own defense. In desperation, I found Alvin’s first wife, who made sense of the case. January 3, 1983, Judith Neelley’s child was born. Local Democrats spread vicious rumors that I was the father of the baby. The state’s evidence was overwhelming. Our defense consisted of the wives. Their stories of the cruelty and meanness of Alvin N eelley were presented to the jury in gory detail. The wife beatings were international news in their savagery. We proved Judith Ann Neelley had no intent to commit the murders or other crimes. We attacked her confession and put on some of the most horrible wife beating testimony in American history. We created the ”Battered Woman” criminal defense by building on the Stockholm Syndrome and the Patty Hearst episode. The battered woman syndrome defense is now accepted in all 50 states. There was collusion between Assistant District Attorney Michael O’Dell and Charles McGee, the attorney for Juror Eileen Hargis, who was facing criminal charges, yet became the jury foreman. She lied to get on the jury. The verdict came in – life without parole. The judge, who made me take the case at my expense ($320,000), raised the sentence to death. Flash back to my 1944 fifth grade meeting Bobbie Mae Mooney. She would marry Fob James, the future governor of Alabama, who commuted the sentence of Judith Ann N eelley as his last act in office. In 2014 I was standing across the street from the “To Kill a Mocking Bird” courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama. My lady friend asked me to repeat what I went through defending Judith Ann Neelley. I gave her the litany – loss of health, bankruptcy, children persecuted, house rocked, auto stolen, office picketed, reputation ruined, and on and on. Studying the white clock tower of the famous courthouse, she mused, ”You are the real life Atticus Finch.” I said, “No, the names French and Finch just sound alike. Atticus Finch was a democrat.”

BEATEN, BATTERED AND DAMNED

THE JUDITH ANNE NEELLEY CASE
ROBERT B. FRENCH, JR.

September 28, 1982, 9:32 a.m., Lisa Ann Millican, a 13-year-old run-away from a Georgia orphans home, was standing in the wind, 2″ from the edge of a 430 foot precipice. She had been raped for two days by a fat man, and injected 6 times with Drano. In minutes, she will be shot in the back, and pushed over the edge. Alvin N eelley will then be ready to entice another female to rape and kill. I was forced to represent the killer, Neelley’s 18-year-old wife, Judith Ann – Capital Murder. In Alabama, being a Republican, I was punished for my politics. Out of law school less than 30 days, I had been forced to represent a KKK in one of the worst capital, racially motivated, gang rape cases in Alabama history. N eelley was my 17th murder or rape case at my personal expense. Costly politics. I met a very pregnant Judith Ann Neelley with a mutual loathing and distrust Judith would not cooperate in her own defense. In desperation, I found Alvin’s first wife, who made sense of the case. January 3, 1983, Judith Neelley’s child was born. Local Democrats spread vicious rumors that I was the father of the baby. The state’s evidence was overwhelming. Our defense consisted of the wives. Their stories of the cruelty and meanness of Alvin N eelley were presented to the jury in gory detail. The wife beatings were international news in their savagery. We proved Judith Ann Neelley had no intent to commit the murders or other crimes. We attacked her confession and put on some of the most horrible wife beating testimony in American history. We created the ”Battered Woman” criminal defense by building on the Stockholm Syndrome and the Patty Hearst episode. The battered woman syndrome defense is now accepted in all 50 states. There was collusion between Assistant District Attorney Michael O’Dell and Charles McGee, the attorney for Juror Eileen Hargis, who was facing criminal charges, yet became the jury foreman. She lied to get on the jury. The verdict came in – life without parole. The judge, who made me take the case at my expense ($320,000), raised the sentence to death. Flash back to my 1944 fifth grade meeting Bobbie Mae Mooney. She would marry Fob James, the future governor of Alabama, who commuted the sentence of Judith Ann N eelley as his last act in office. In 2014 I was standing across the street from the “To Kill a Mocking Bird” courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama. My lady friend asked me to repeat what I went through defending Judith Ann Neelley. I gave her the litany – loss of health, bankruptcy, children persecuted, house rocked, auto stolen, office picketed, reputation ruined, and on and on. Studying the white clock tower of the famous courthouse, she mused, ”You are the real life Atticus Finch.” I said, “No, the names French and Finch just sound alike. Atticus Finch was a democrat.”

REVIEWS

French’s life, being force to defend Judith Neelley, was pushed to the edge of an internal canyon deeper that the canyon where Lisa’s teenage body has crashed. The Drano Murder Trial is 350 pages of rape, murder, mayhem and unbelievable cruelty.

 

Jerry Ellis

Pulitzer Prize nominated Author of Walking the Trail.

French presents his impassioned “battered woman” defense of Judith Neelley in her murder trial. He spares no horrible details of the sordid life she shared with her husband Alvin.

 

 

 

Elizabeth S. Howard

Author of The Vagabond Dreamer and others.

My friend Bob French was not only forced to defend this heinous case, he lived it. Now 30 years later he tells the inside story of what really happened.

Jerry Barksdale

Author of The Cornbread Chronicles and others.

September 28, 1982, 9:32 A.M., Lisa Ann Millican, a 13-year-old runaway from a Georgia orphan home, was standing in the wind two inches from the edge of a 430-foot canyon precipice. She had been raped for two days and injected six times with Drano. In minutes, she will be shot in the back and pushed over the edge. Alvin Neeley will then be ready to entice another female to rape and kill.

In Alabama, being a Republican meant being punished for my politics. Out of law school less than 30 days, I had been forced to represent a member of the Klu Klux Klan in one of the worst racially motivated, gang rape, capital cases in Alabama history and now would be forced to represent the killer, Neelley’s 18-year-old wife, Judith Ann.  Neelley was my 17th murder or rape case at my personal expense.

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September 28, 1982, 9:32 A.M., Lisa Ann Millican, a 13-year-old runaway from a Georgia orphan home, was standing in the wind two inches from the edge of a 430-foot canyon precipice. She had been raped for two days and injected six times with Drano. In minutes, she will be shot in the back and pushed over the edge. Alvin Neeley will then be ready to entice another female to rape and kill.

In Alabama, being a Republican meant being punished for my politics. Out of law school less than 30 days, I had been forced to represent a member of the Klu Klux Klan in one of the worst racially motivated, gang rape, capital cases in Alabama history and now would be forced to represent the killer, Neelley’s 18-year-old wife, Judith Ann.  Neelley was my 17th murder or rape case at my personal expense.