News Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News Rancho Santa Fe

Man takes stand against accomplice

A former candidate for a North County skinhead gang testified Sept. 18 against an acquaintance charged with the murder of the organization’s leader.
Making no excuses about why he was testifying against his former co-defendant, Travis Tidwell, 27, said he wanted to take advantage of a plea deal that would be a “sizeable benefit” in reducing a potential life prison sentence to only several more years in custody for his role in the murder of Nathaneal Neumann.
On Nov. 20, 2006, David McKinney, a parolee, allegedly shot Neumann once in the chest with a .45-caliber handgun at the Oceanside Inn in the 1600 block of Oceanside Boulevard, according to authorities. Neumann, who was also known as “Joker,” was pronounced dead at the scene.
Tidwell testified he allowed McKinney to use his truck and at the request of the 43-year-old man called to the Oceanside Inn to confirm that Neumann was still in the room.
In addition, Tidwell said he also retrieved the handgun for McKinney from a Carlsbad hotel room hours before the slaying.
While Tidwell’s plea bargain is still contingent on whether the prosecutor and judge believe his testimony was truthful, if granted he will be convicted of a single count of voluntary manslaughter. He has been in custody since December 2006 for a burglary conviction not related to this case.
McKinney was arrested Jan. 1, 2007, after trying to re-enter the United States at the San Ysidro border crossing. Tidwell was charged shortly after, because of statements McKinney made to police.
In the days leading up to the murder, Tidwell said McKinney and Neumann, who had only been out of prison for a week, were having rifts in their relationship, and he believed Neumann was planning on “stabbing” McKinney, partly because of comments Neumann made to him, as well as a conversation he overheard between McKinney and a close friend of Neumann’s in the hours leading up to the slaying.
If convicted, McKinney, who remains in jail in lieu of $2 million bail, faces a maximum sentence of 50 years to life in prison.

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