Victim's family devastated by murder trial delay

Victim's family devastated by murder trial delay

TYLER (KYTX) - The murder trial for accused Broadway Square Mall shooter Ricky Neal Jr. has been delayed once again in Tyler. Smith County Judicial documents show this is the eighth trial continuation.

Neal is accused of shooting and killing 23-year-old Chris Mass in early February. Mass' mother sat down exclusively with CBS 19's Courtney Friedman, and explains her emotional frustration with the delays.

Latrese Mass has been told the only thing that can heal the pain of losing a child, is time. Yet ironically, time is what's making her pain worse.

"We were sitting in court today and today was the first day we just got upset because we've gone and gone and gone and it's like, when is it going to end? When is he finally going to go before a jury and we get justice for Chris?" Latrese Mass says.

It's been more than a year now since Mass was shot to death outside Tyler's Broadway Square Mall.

The man accused of killing Mass is 26-year-old Ricky Neal Jr. His trial was delayed yet again Monday, because he still had not hired a lawyer.

"We're here weeks and weeks and weeks and there is still no lawyer hired," Judge Kerry Russell said to Neal in court Monday morning.

So Judge Russell appointed Neal a lawyer, Tonda Curry. Since she's new to the case, Judge Russell granted her two months to prepare. He set the trial for April 28.

When Russell announced the delay, Latrese Mass's cries rang out through the courtroom. She says the hardest thing will be explaining it all to her son's 5-year-old daughter, Chrislynn.

"Yesterday we were watching TV and she said, 'I wish I was a fairy.' I said 'Why?' She said 'So I can get a magic wand and bring my daddy back."' Latrese says.

Latrese knows the trial won't bring her son back, but she says it will bring her much needed closure.

"It's so frustrating," she says. "When is this going to end? When is Chris finally going to be able to rest?"

She says she'll pray every day that the trial won't be delayed again, so that sooner than later, her pain will start to subside.  

In the beginning, Ricky Neal hired attorneys Buck Files and Brett Harrison. However, on January 31, the two filed a motion to withdraw as counsel. Russell approved it soon after.  

It doesn't mention a whole lot of detail, because of attorney-client privacy, but talks about a conflict of personalities in which Neal "made it abundantly and profanely clear that he does not wish them to continue as his lawyers." 

Neal is allowed to hire another lawyer who can switch out with Curry, but the bottom line is time is running out.  Judge Russell does not plan on delaying this trial again.

While he waits for his trial to start, Neal remains in the Smith County Jail.


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