Mass family finds relief in Ricky Neal's life sentence

Mass family finds relief in Ricky Neal's life sentence

TYLER (KYTX) -  Convicted murderer Ricky Neal Jr. is sentenced to life in prison Tuesday in a Smith County courtroom. He shot and killed 23-year-old Chris Mass February 9 last year in Tyler's Broadway Square Mall parking lot.

After many trial delays, it's been a long long wait for the Mass family. Chris was killed over a year ago, and they say Tuesday was the first day since his death, they have felt relief.

After the sentencing, the Mass family invited CBS 19's Courtney Friedman back to their home to talk about the weight they feel has been lifted.  

After over a year of agony, those closest to Chris Mass feel floods of emotion.

"Relief, happiness, peace, joy."

"The first ton of bricks was lifted when they said guilty, but then today was just totally a different, it was different today," Chris's mother Latrese Mass says.
Latrese says the life sentence for Ricky Neal not only gives her a sense of healing, but a sense of safety, especially for Chris' two young children.

His daughter Chrislyn, is five years old, and his son, CJ, is 10 months old. CJ was born on Father's Day four months after Chris was killed.  

"He will never know the real Chris," says Chrislyn's mom Annieka Mass.

She stands beside Chris's siblings and best friends, feeling thankful for some closure.  

"Justice was served," Annieka says. "And we can continue to now live through Chris and be happy."

For another family across town, happiness is far away.  Ricky Neal's family cried in court as Judge Russel read the life sentence aloud.

Neal turned around and mouthed to them, "I love y'all, I'm okay."

Neal's family members asked his attorney, Thad Davidson, to read their statement for them:  "On February 9, 2013 a tragedy occured. Hearts aoccurreds have been shattered on both sides. The Neal family wishes to express its deepest apologies and sorrow and regrets to the Mass family. We have lost both our sons."

"All I can do is pray that his mom finds strength in all of it, because in essence, she lost a child too," Latrese Mass says. 

She's trying to consider the sentence a victory, but in reality, she says knows everyone has lost.  


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