OCEANSIDE — Travis Tidwell had hoped he could pay his debt to society without going to prison.
He was not alone. At Tidwell’s sentencing April 2, more than a dozen family members and friends showed up to show their support for the young man, who faced up to six years in prison for his role in the 2006 slaying of Nathaneal Neumann, a North County skinhead gang leader.
“I don’t want to see him go to prison, because we will lose him to the system,” Tidwell’s mother, Judith Del Decchio, said.
His attorney, James Weintre, said Tidwell, 27, wasn’t asking for a “bailout.” He said his client, who has been in custody since December 2006, has credit for approximately three years in jail, during which time he has “demonstrated” his willingness to take responsibility for his actions by resolving his case early through a plea agreement and testifying against his co-defendant, Daniel McKinney.
Weintre told the court he worried that prison would destroy any progress Tidwell made, as well as literally destroy him as a human being.
Prior to his plea agreement to voluntary manslaughter, Tidwell had been charged with murder and faced life in prison.
Prosecutors alleged Tidwell picked up the gun from a North County motel and delivered it to McKinney where the two had been drinking. Further, they said Tidwell called the victim’s hotel room to ensure he was there after McKinney made remarks that Neumann had to be dealt with. He then lent McKinney his truck.
Neumann was shot once in the chest with a .45-caliber handgun at the Oceanside Inn in the 1600 block of Oceanside Boulevard. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
McKinney was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced in March to 59 years to life behind bars.
Superior Court Judge K. Michael Kirkman, who applauded Tidwell on his initiative to take responsibility for his actions and straighten out his life, agreed with prosecutor Fanny Yu that Tidwell should receive six years in prison.
“In life when we commit a wrong, we have to suffer the consequences of that wrong,” Kirkman said.
At the time of Neumann’s killing, Tidwell was a heavy methamphetamine user and involved in check fraud schemes, Yu said. At the hearing, Tidwell was sentenced for several burglary convictions unrelated to the murder.
Following the sentencing, Tidwell’s family declined to comment on the court’s decision.