OCEANSIDE — A middle-aged man with a rap sheet dating back to the late 1980s was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of an Oceanside skinhead gang leader.
Daniel McKinney received 15 years to life in prison for killing Nathaneal Neumann in a motel room during the early morning hours of Nov. 20, 2006. Two allegations — a prison strike prior for a 1994 burglary and the use of a firearm — increased the sentence to 59 years to life.
McKinney was convicted last September of second-degree murder. Witnesses testified that McKinney, a parolee at the time, shot Neumann, 30, once in the chest with a .45 caliber-handgun in the doorway of the victim’s room at the Oceanside Inn in the 1600 block of Oceanside Boulevard. Neumann, who was also known as “Joker,” was pronounced dead at the scene.
The prosecution’s key witness is Travis Tidwell, a former co-defendant in the case. Tidwell said in the days before the slaying McKinney and Neumann, who had only been out of prison for a week, were having rifts in their relationship. Because of comments Neumann made to him, as well as a conversation he overheard between McKinney and a close friend of Neumann’s hours before the shooting, he believed Neumann was planning to stab McKinney.
Tidwell, an acquaintance of both men, testified he provided McKinney with his truck and retrieved the handgun the defendant had stashed at a Carlsbad hotel room. Additionally, at the request of McKinney, he said he verified that Neumann was still in his motel room.
Facing life in prison, Tidwell, 27, took a plea agreement in the case the could reduce his potential prison sentence significantly. His plea deal was contingent on his testimony. Tidwell’s sentencing is scheduled for April 2.
Before McKinney was sentenced he addressed the court briefly. McKinney said he feared for his family’s safety after he heard Neumann had threatened their lives and his.
Drunk, fearful and angry, McKinney said he went over to Neumann’s motel room to talk to him. When Neumann answered the door, McKinney said a brief confrontation occurred and he pulled the gun out to intimidate Neumann. However, the victim grabbed the gun causing it to fire.
“This never should have happened,” McKinney said. “It was an accident.”
As McKinney apologized to Neumann’s family and to his own — Neumann’s mother and his were in the audience — he portrayed himself as a victim of circumstance. First, he said he took the rap for his girlfriend in the 1994 burglary case, which added 15 years to his sentence. Next, he said he confronted Neumann out of fear his and his family’s safety. He said he had no idea what Neumann was capable of seeing as he knowingly gave two women HIV.
After the hearing, Nathaneal Neumann’s mother Valerie Hogue and his former girlfriend denounced McKinney’s statements about the HIV-positive Neumann infecting anyone with the disease and targeting McKinney’s children. Hogue said she’s wasn’t naive to the criminal activity her son was involved in, but she was sure he’d never threaten a child.
Inside the courtroom, Hogue expressed her sorrow for her loss, as well as McKinney’s mother’s; however, she was adamant that she couldn’t forgive her son’s killer at this time.
“I want you to take your last breath behind prison walls,” Hogue said.