Missouri man found not guilty in drifter's kidnapping

Friday, July 20, 2012 | 10:42 a.m. CDT; updated 2:41 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 20, 2012

COLUMBIA — A Boone County jury acquitted a man in the kidnapping of an Ohio drifter, who was later killed by a northeast Missouri family.

The jury on Wednesday found 21-year-old Brandon L. Martin of Laddonia not guilty of kidnapping 20-year-old James McNeely in December 2009.

At the time, Martin was living with Chester Harvey and his family in Laddonia. Five members of the Harvey family are in prison for kidnapping McNeely and eventually killing him in the basement of their home.

Martin testified that he didn't alert authorities that McNeely was being held in the Harveys' basement because he believed Chester Harvey would kill him or his family.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported that testimony indicated the Harveys were on methamphetamine during three days leading up to McNeely's death.

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