Men sentenced for the 2015 murder of James Neal

James Neal’s murder case came to a close Friday, after Raymond Harper and Daniel Scott were sentenced for their involvement in the murder plot that took the life of a 54-year-old man.

Scott, 34, stood before Judge Michael Ryan and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder while armed as a part of plea deal that suggested a 15 year sentence. Judge Ryan accepted the terms of the agreement and sentenced Scott to 15 years, a portion of the maximum life sentence penalty associated with a second-degree murder while armed count.

Harper, 54, stood before the judge and was sentenced to a year in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of carrying a dangerous weapon, per the parameters of his plea deal. Judge Ryan accepted the terms of the plea agreement and sentenced Harper to a one year sentence as suggested by the prosecution, four years less than the maximum penalty associated with a carrying a dangerous weapon charge.

According to documents detailing the murder, Neal’s death was the result of an argument over money that quickly escalated into a stabbing. On November 21, 2015 Harper was outside of a 7-Eleven store at 1109 South Capitol St., SW carrying a concealed butcher knife.

Outside of the same 7-Eleven, Scott was having an argument with a witness over money he received from a customer outside of the store. With Neal standing in attendance, Harper obtained a knife during the argument and stabbed the witness.

Neal and the witness fled and traveled toward M Street SE. Scott eventually found the pair and lunged at Neal and stabbed him once in the face and then proceeded to flee the scene.

Police were called to the scene and Neal was transported to the hospital, where he suffered from hemorrhaging throughout his brain and skull. The coroner ruled Neal’s cause of death a stab wound to the face and noted the stab wound penetrated Neal’s nasal cavity.

Back at the crime scene, officers recovered the blade of the butcher’s knife and broken pieces of the handle, which the witness was able to identify as the knife used in the stabbing.

Police located Scott at a nearby McDonald’s on I Street SE where they arrested and charged him with second-degree murder, which was eventually upgraded to second-degree murder while armed.

Harper was arrested and charged the following year after witnesses identified him and his involvement in the murder.

Upon his release Scott is expected to serve two years probation. Harper is expected to serve five years probation following his 15 year sentence.

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