Men allegedly attempt to kill homeless man

Tim Sturrock

Two men who allegedly beat, robbed and burned a homeless man last week appeared in court Tuesday on charges of second-degree attempted murder, authorities said.

Doctors at Hennepin County Medical Center partially amputated the man’s legs. The victim, 44-year-old James Neville, was in critical condition in the intensive care unit Tuesday night.

According to the criminal complaint, Stephen William Johnson, 31, and Troy Richard Dean, 27, invited Neville to drink alcohol with them last Wednesday near Central and University avenues Southeast.

After a short period, Johnson told police Dean kicked Neville in the face and took his wallet. Johnson said he does not remember what happened afterward.

Four hours later, police and an ambulance crew found Neville beaten and unconscious with his legs in a small fire. Police arrested Johnson on the scene. According to the complaint, he smelled of smoke, his hands were covered in blood, and Neville’s wallet was in his pocket.

Police arrested Dean two days later. A witness told police Dean was homeless.

Dean and Johnson spent a year in jail after pleading guilty to an aggravated robbery charge after beating and robbing a homeless man in 1998.

Johnson and Dean are both being held at Hennepin County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

In other police news

ï Chandra Meyer, 19, said she looked a total of five hours in five days before reporting her father’s 1995 Dodge Intrepid stolen.

Meyer said she parked the car near fifth Street Southeast, west of Interstate 35W, and walked to class. When she came back, she couldn’t find it.

After five days, she called the police, who said they believe Meyer had forgotten where she parked the car.

According to the police report, “(Meyer’s father) and his family searched the southeast Minneapolis area and believe the vehicle to have been stolen and not misparked. The victim’s wife demanded that a report be filed and that is why this report is being made prior to the 30 day waiting period.”


ï A burglar stole an unknown amount of money after breaking into an apartment building on fifth Avenue Southeast and fifth Street Southeast, and also damaged two quarter-operated washing machines, according to a police report.

Jason Larson, 33, a five-year resident and caretaker of the building, said every couple of years a burglar or burglars will break into the same unmarked door and use a crowbar to pry open the machines’ change boxes.

Larson said it is probably not the same person. He said he can’t imagine why the same person would continually go through the trouble to steal a bunch of quarters that couldn’t buy more than a couple packs of cigarettes and a bottle of liquor. But he has one theory.

“I always like to think some transient knows the laundry machines are there, and every couple years when they roll into town they hit it,” he said.

Despite the break-ins, Larson said he’s comfortable in his neighborhood.

“It’s a good neighborhood but there’s no accounting for transient scum,” he said.


ï The Minneapolis police bomb squad was called Thursday to the Mayo Memorial Building, marking the third time the unit has inspected a suspicious package in three weeks.

This time, a psychologist in the building said he became worried when he found a package sent to him through campus mail that didn’t have a return address.

After shaking it, Michael Potegal took the box out of his office. “It had been delivered to one of the offices, so I thought ‘whatever’s in there someone had carried it,’ so I could carry it out,” Potegal said.

He called the police. The bomb squad arrived and X-rayed the package, which contained a dissertation a colleague had sent to Potegal.

He said he told his colleague to do a better job labeling the package next time.


ï A University senior said angry neighbors egged her car after they mistakenly thought she was parking in the wrong spot.

Lindsey Forster, 21, said she has had a permit to park in the lot, which is a few blocks from her apartment, for two years. She hasn’t had a problem with her neighbors until this September, when she began receiving notes telling her to move her car.

About two weeks ago a friend of Forster’s, who was borrowing the car, found it blocked in the lot with a note suggesting she come to the neighbors to talk about the situation.

“The people who lived there last year were really cool; we had no problems, we all shared,” Forster said. “‘If my car is your way, tell me, I’ll move. We’ll work it.’ It was really simple.”

Her friend explained to the people that Forster did have a permit, but the tenants would not believe him.

Days later, Forster received a note asking her to park in her assigned spot.

Forster said her car was in the right space, but the tenants wouldn’t believe her. They left another note: “You are not in the right spot – please park in the right spot, it’s not that difficult.'”

Forster said she doesn’t understand why someone would get upset, especially since there were open spaces throughout September.

There is no permanent damage to her car, Forster said. She plans to tell her landlord about the situation.

Tim Sturrock covers courts and cops
and welcomes comments
at [email protected]
or (612) 627-4070 x3290.