BOULDER, Colo. — Professors, students, and community members were invited to attend a vigil and discussion regarding discrimination within the Boulder justice system and dedicated it to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Donald Matthews, an educator who helped organize the vigil, says a big part of the vigil was used to discuss the case of Jeffrey Neering, a 28-year-old Boulder man awaiting sentencing for an attempted murder conviction.
“Quite frankly, I was surprised,” said Matthews, an adjunct professor at Naropa University. “I didn’t really believe the evidence warranted a conviction.”
After Neering was convicted, Dr. Matthews stepped into action, organizing a march through downtown Boulder just before Neering’s sentencing on Friday.
The incident in which Neering was convicted occurred in August 2011, beginning as an argument inside the K China restaurant on University Hill. It involved the 28-year-old and another group of men, including Jason Chilson of Denver.
After the group was kicked out of the bar, prosecutors say Neering caught up to them on a nearby street, where he jumped on Chilson and used a knife to slit his throat.
“Some facts were not put into evidence, especially about mental illness, about substance abuse,” said Dr. Matthews of Neering’s trial, saying that he believes the conviction was a result of racial profiling.
When asked for a reaction to Dr. Matthews’ concerns, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said he believed the investigation into the incident and ensuing trial were thorough and fair.
“When a jury from a community like Boulder hears the evidence and reaches a unanimous verdict that somebody did something beyond a reasonable doubt, the public should be assured that that is in fact what happened,” said Garnett.
Neering’s supporters plan to march Friday from the First United Methodist Church down the Pearl Street Mall, ending at the Boulder Justice Center, where Neering’s sentencing is set for 2 p.m.