Day three of George Cecil McNeal’s trial for the 2005 murder of Michael Taranovich began Thursday in Pembroke with defense lawyer Lorenzo Merritt questioning brothers Joe and Michael Taranovich Jr. about the family’s drug use.
Taranovich Jr. said he and Joe smoked marijuana on a regular basis, as did their father before his death. He testified he and his father often bought marijuana out of Leroy Phillips trailer - the same place his brother and dad allegedly bought pot on the day of the shooting that left Michael Taranovich Sr. dead, but said he had never seen McNeal before.
McNeal is claiming he shot Taranovich Sr. in self defense.
But on cross examiniation by prosecutor Cris Schneider, Taranovich Jr. said it was unlikely his dad and brother tried to rob McNeal and there were several other locations where marijuana could have been bought.
He also said they had plenty of money to buy pot after earning more than $500 on the day of the murder from selling watermelons.
Joe Taranovich took the stand next and said he has a clean record besides two paraphenalia charges in Kansas and that the story of the defense team is incorrect.
McNeal was scheduled to testify after lunch. The prosecution is arguing McNeal killed Taranovich during a robbery.
The trial is expected to conclude Friday.
Look for more on this story on our website and in Saturday's Bryan County News.