Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009 | 4:30 p.m.
The trial of a man accused of killing his ex-wife in his mother's home in northwest Las Vegas began yesterday in Clark County District Court. The jury selection process was completed on Monday and opening arguments began Tuesday morning in the trial of Clifford E. McClain.
McClain is charged with first-degree murder, assault and battery and domestic violence battery in the death of Allainna McClain, whose body was found at her mother-in-law's home on Feb. 17, 2008, at 8749 Isola Dr., near the intersection of Charleston Boulevard and Fort Apache Road.
Melody Nelson, Allainna McClain's former mother-in-law, discovered her body face-down in the garage with blunt force trauma on both sides of her head, said Deputy District Attorney Susan Benedict. Nelson found her son, Clifford McClain, curled in a fetal position on a sofa in the house. She then returned to the garage and, after realizing that Allaina McClain was not responding, called 911.
Detectives found wood fragments near her body and a wooden cane leaning against a wall, Benedict said.
The following day, the Clark County Coroner ruled her death a homicide as a result of strangulation. Metro Police arrested Clifford McClain on March 27 and he pleaded innocent to all charges.
"The state intends to prove that the defendant struck Allainna with that cane, causing the injuries to her eye, and then strangled her until she died," Benedict said during the prosecution's opening argument Jan. 13.
According to police records, the couple had three domestic violence incidents between 2003 and 2006.
Allainna McClain, who was a nursing student at the College of Southern Nevada at the time, arrived at Nelson's house to pick up her two children at approximately 8 p.m. that night, Benedict said.
Nelson and the McClains' two children, however, had not yet returned from a weekend vacation in Pinetop, Ariz., the prosecution said.
"She wasn't able to leave with her kids as she had planned," Benedict said. "Instead, she left in a body bag."
Michael Schwarz, the attorney representing Clifford McClain, withheld his opening statement until the defense calls its first witness later this week. The defense intends to question a pathologist regarding the possibility that Allainna McClain suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at the moment she fell to the ground, resulting in her death.
Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or [email protected].