GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - Jurors were deliberating Monday morning in a Gaston County murder trial.
Defense attorneys said Steve Neely is guilty of voluntary manslaughter -- not murder -- after stabbing a man to death.
Jurors barely got through an hour of deliberations before one juror told the judge, "Three or four of us are dead set. What happens if we can't agree?"
The judge said that shouldn't be a concern yet.
Steve Neely's attorney said something you don't usually hear from defense attorneys.
“He is guilty of voluntary manslaughter,” defense attorney Rick Beam said.
He said there is no question that Neely killed his ex-wife's husband, David Colbert.
He said the stabbing happened after Neely lost his job and needed to sell his home to pay mounting debts
Colbert, he said, sabotaged a closing sale and tried to force Neely to sell it to him cheap.
“He got pushed to his breaking point,” Beam said. "Cork pops, volcano erupts.”
Neely cut Colbert in his home, chased Colbert down the street, and stabbed him repeatedly as neighbors watched. Then Neely sat outside eating dinner and reading the Bible.
“That's not the product of a reasoned mind. That's rage,” Beam said.
He said there was no premeditation.
The prosecutor said that's not true.
“That man is guilty of first-degree murder,” prosecutor Megan Rhoden said.
She played Neely's taped confession to police: “He gets us and starts running and I start to think, 'Oh my God he's, you know, he's still alive.’”
“Those are his words ladies and gentlemen,” Rhoden said.
She said Neely wasn't in a blind rage and he ate his meal with no concern for Colbert bleeding nearby.
"Mere feet from where DC is bleeding to death in the street,” Rhoden said.
Neely will spend the rest of his life in prison if the jury convicts him of first-degree murder.
He would about three years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.
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