A 24-year-old man is on trial in Ohio for fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend after calling him the ‘N-word’ and posting a half-naked picture of the woman on social media.
Earl Jones, who is white, was arrested in May 2016 and charged with murder in the killing of 19-year-old Kevin Neri, who was of mixed race.
Jones maintains that he shot Neri in self-defense, just hours before the two were scheduled to meet for a fistfight, and that the incident was not related to the victim’s race, as some activists have suggested.
Love triangle: Earl Jones (left), 24, is on trial for allegedly murdering 19-year-old Kevin Neri (right), who was dating his ex-girlfriend
Jones and Cyerra Prather, 21 (right), had a son together (inset), and friends testified that the ex-boyfriend was angry she was dating a mixed race man (left)
But according to testimony from Neri’s friends, for months Jones had been seething that his former girlfriend, 21-year-old Cyerra Prather, was dating a black man.
Jones and Prather had a son together when she was 16 years old.
In text message exchanges with Prather, including on the day of the fatal incident, Jones repeatedly referred to her new boyfriend as a ‘n*****,’ she told the court from the witness stand Monday, according to Cincinnati Enquirer.
Jones and Neri also traded angry Facebook and text messages, according to testimony from the victim’s friend.
The apparent animosity between the old boyfriend and the new exploded on May 16, 2016, when Jones posted a photo on Facebook and Twitter depicting a scantily clad Prather.
Neri’s friend Jason Yazell told the court Monday that when the 19-year-old saw the image on social media, he decided to fight his rival.
Self-defense claim: Jones, pictured with his son, maintains that he shot Neri in self-defense and that the incident was not racially motivated
That evening, Jones was coming over to Prather’s home in Colerain Township to pick up their 4-year-old on, and also to settle his dispute with Neri.
Neri was talking to Prather outside her home in the 2800 block of Overdale Drive at around 8pm when, according to witnesses, Jones pulled up in his car, shot his rival three times from a .38-caliber revolver and sped away.
Prather’s mother, who was home at the time, tried to stanch the bleeding from Neri’s wounds, but he did not survive.
Jones called 911 from his car and told the dispatcher that he killed Neri in self-defense. He then drove to a nearby Hamilton County Sheriff’s station and turned himself in.
The group Black Lives Matter has taken up Neri’s cause, portraying him on social media as a victim of a racially motivated crime, reported the station WCPO.
Jones posted a photo on Facebook and Twitter depicting a scantily clad Prather (left), which prompted Neri (right) to challenge him to a fistfight that ended in his killing
‘Today marks the first anniversary of the racist murder of Kevin Neri,’ the group posted on its Facebook page in May 2017.
But Jones’s attorney, Bill Gallagher, argued that his client’s text messages featuring the ‘N-word’ have been taken out of context.
‘I don’t even think the prosecutor’s office thinks this is about race. It’s a straight case of self-defense,’ the attorney previously said.
He noted that his client has African-American relatives and insisted that he is not racist.