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September 16, 2014

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Man tells his side in strangling death of ex-wife

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Allainna McClain

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Clifford McClain

A man charged in the death of his ex-wife told his story publicly for the first time Friday, saying he and the woman had a violent fight that left her unconscious after she fell and hit her head.

Clifford McClain, 29, is accused of murder in the death of 24-year-old Allainna McClain at a home in northwest Las Vegas. He testified Friday during his trial in Clark County District Court that during the struggle, he was acting in self-defense and was trying to prevent her from grabbing a knife.

During mostly calm and collected testimony, Clifford McClain said he served in the U.S. Air Force from 2001 to 2003 and married Allainna McClain in July, 2002, while he was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Wash.

He became emotional when his attorney, Michael Schwarz, asked him to describe the events of Feb. 17, 2008 -- when Allainna McClain’s body was found in the home near Charleston Boulevard and Fort Apache Road.

He was sitting in the garage watching the NBA All-Star Game on television when Allainna McClain walked into the room, he said. An argument ensued, and Clifford McClain said his ex-wife began swinging at him.

She repeatedly threatened to kill him and tried to reach for a knife that was sitting on a nearby desk, Clifford McClain said.

He attempted to push her away, and when Allainna McClain tried again to reach for the knife, Clifford McClain testified that he grabbed her by the neck.

As he tried to push her away, their feet became tangled and the couple fell to the ground, Clifford McClain said. He testified that his ex-wife’s head struck a parked car and then the garage floor.

She was unresponsive when he shook her, and Clifford McClain said he doesn’t remember anything from the rest of that night.

Earlier, psychologist Dr. Irene Zucker testified that she interviewed Allainna McClain in 2007 after a domestic violence incident between her and Clifford McClain. Zucker said that after the interview, she concluded there was no propensity for violence in Allainna McClain.

Prosecutors also showed evidence that Clifford McClain received a general discharge from the Air Force in 2003 due to lateness and giving false statements to commanding officers.

Although the couple divorced in 2004, they maintained an on-again, off-again relationship and shared joint custody of their two children. Clifford McClain is also facing charges of assault and battery and domestic violence battery in the death of Allainna McClain.

Closing arguments are scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday.

Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or [email protected].

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