Friend details plan to rob, kill elderly Detroit man

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — Arthur Neal was thrown down a flight of stairs and stabbed 12 times over a few thousand dollars and some watches, according to testimony Friday in 36th District Court.

After the slaying, the victim’s body lay for six weeks in the basement of the abandoned house where his alleged killer, 20-year-old Quanzell Hood, was squatting.

The 86-year-old construction worker was reported missing Dec. 20. His granddaughter told the media and police he’d won $20,000 in the lottery just before he disappeared, although Michigan Lottery officials and Detroit police said he never cashed a winning ticket. The supposed lottery winnings were never mentioned during Friday’s preliminary examination.

Instead, the slaying allegedly was over $3,000 in cash, which supposedly was stashed under Neal’s bed, witness Dajuan Anderson said.

After Anderson’s testimony, 36th District Judge Kenneth King bound the case over for trial on first-degree murder and felony murder charges. Other than court personnel and one newspaper reporter, the second-floor courtroom in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice was empty.

Anderson claimed Hood, his friend since middle school, approached him in December about killing Neal, whom friends said did under-the-table construction jobs.

“I didn’t want no part of it,” Anderson, 17, said. “I ain’t never killed anyone before, and this was an old man.”

Anderson, clad in Wayne County Jail garb and handcuffed during his testimony as he awaits his own trial on drug charges, was the only witness in the exam.

Anderson said Hood offered him half the cash — $1,500 — to help carry out the killing.

“I tried to tell him, ‘you can just break in the house and take it instead of killing him,’ ” Anderson said. “He was like, ‘I’m gonna kill him because he was in my face and stuff, and he know where I be at.’ I thought he was playing.

“He told me that he was going to push him down the stairs, and take something and hit him with it,” Anderson said. “He wanted me to push him down the stairs. But it sounded stupid to me. I was like, ‘it don’t take two people to kill an old man.’ He said the man got so much stuff in his house; Rolex watches and stuff, and we were gonna take it and go to the pawn shop. But I didn’t want to do it.”

A few days later, in late December, Anderson said he and Hood bought marijuana at a drug house before heading to an abandoned house on Mansfield, where Hood had been squatting.

“We’re inside the house smoking, and once the blunt get done, (Neal) called him and said ‘I’m outside,’ ” Anderson said. “Arthur Neal came inside and shook hands. I paused; I was so scared, I walked out the house. Quanzell came out after me and said, ‘what you doing?’ I said, ‘That’s an old man. I got a lot of old people in my family; I didn’t want no part of doing that.’ ”

Anderson said Hood was angry because he refused to help kill Neal. “Me and Quanzell was at the corner arguing: ‘Blah blah blah,’ ” Anderson said. “He called me a (expletive). Then, he started walking toward the crib.”

Anderson said he didn’t see Hood until a few weeks later, when he drove to his house in a Cadillac he’d never seen before, brandishing a large amount of cash.

“I was like, ‘Did you kill that guy?’ I asked what happened to the old man. He said, ‘Yeah. If you’d have helped me you could’ve had some money, too.’ ”

A few days later, while visiting Hood at the abandoned house, Anderson said he crept into the basement to see if Hood had indeed killed Neal.

“I went down there to see if he really did get rid of the body, and he really did,” Anderson said.

An autopsy revealed Neal had died from six stab wounds to the forehead; one to his left eye; one to his neck, and four to the chest.

Someone tipped off police, and on Feb. 1 officers swarmed the house, Anderson said.

“The day police ran into the house, the next morning (Hood) texted me: ‘The boys are in my house. I’m on my way to Texas. I love you bro; stay in school,’ ” Anderson said.

Before Hood could escape south, he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Wyatt Harris asked Anderson why he didn’t call police.

“We’re from the hood,” Anderson said. “We know the same people. I wanted to call the police, but I wanted to set it up in a way where I could get him caught. I didn’t want to tell on him, then have him come back for my family. We don’t got anything to protect ourself.”

It was unclear from testimony who tipped off police.

An arraignment on information in Third Circuit Court is scheduled for March 6.


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