Former Gophers basketball player Daquein McNeil finally went on trial for murder in Baltimore this month, after more than a year of court delays, but nothing was resolved, which will push his legal limbo into 2019.
"Our jury hung and a mistrial was declared on Wednesday afternoon," Marci Johnson, one of the Baltimore public defenders representing McNeil, said in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. "We will retry Daquein's case in February."
McNeil was coach Richard Pitino's first recruit for Minnesota and averaged about 10 minutes per game as a freshman guard on the Gophers' 2014 NIT championship team. He had lost both parents growing up in inner-city Baltimore and was a feel-good story for Minnesota that season.
But in November 2014, McNeil's story took an abrupt turn when he was arrested three days before Thanksgiving for allegedly beating his girlfriend in Minneapolis.
McNeil never played for the Gophers again and left the university. Baltimore police arrested him on June 4, 2017, for allegedly setting fire to a Baltimore house in a drug dispute. Charles Brewer, 59, was found dead next door.
McNeil was charged with first-degree murder and faces a potential life prison sentence. He awaited his first trial at a maximum-security prison in Jessup, Md.
McNeil's family has called it a case of mistaken identity.
"It is an identity case," Johnson told the Star Tribune in June. "There were some squatters living at a vacant building, and they were on drugs.
"[Brewer] had also been homeless but had been taken in by the neighbor. He was in very, very poor health. We're still not sure on how much smoke there was next door because of differing reports.
"One of the addicts that was squatting identified Daquein as the person to collect, so there's a lot of different things going on. Number one, was it [McNeil]? Number two, was it arson? Number three, was it murder?"
The case kept getting delayed until this month.