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October 22, 2014

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Man gets life for killing his ex-wife

Attorneys agree on sentence which could make Clifford McClain eligible for parole after 20 years

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Clifford McClain

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Allainna McClain

Prosecution and defense attorneys agreed on Tuesday to have convicted killer Clifford McClain serve life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years, rather than having the jury determine the sentence -- which could have been life in prison without parole.

The stipulation was reached at Clark County District Court less than 24 hours after Clifford McClain, 29, was found guilty of first-degree murder.

His ex-wife, 24-year-old Allainna McClain, was found dead in the garage of a home in northwest Las Vegas on Feb. 17, 2008.

Both of the families for Clifford McClain and Allainna McClain were notified of the agreement beforehand and no testimony was delivered on Tuesday.

Jurors in the trial also spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday and said that after reviewing all the evidence and testimony, they reached a consensus that last year's killing was a premeditated, preventable act. After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated four hours Monday night and delivered its verdict at 9:30 p.m.

"It definitely wasn't a quick decision," said juror Ray Jones. "We wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing."

Clifford McClain testified on Friday that his ex-wife's head struck a parked car and then the garage floor during a violent argument, rendering her unresponsive.

But juror Brian Gray said he considered the testimony of Clark County Coroner Dr. Gary Telgenhoff as strong evidence against the defendant.

Telgenhoff ruled Allainna McClain's death a homicide as a result of strangulation and said she suffered hemorrhages to her neck and eyes. She also had a normal, healthy heart and no drugs or alcohol in her system, Telgenhoff testified.

Telgenhoff also said that it usually takes three to four minutes for someone to die of strangulation -- testimony that struck a chord with the jury during deliberation, Jones said.

"We felt that he had ample time to stop and re-think what he was doing," he said.

His formal sentencing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on March 31 before Judge Michelle Leavitt.

Although the McClains divorced in 2004, they maintained an on-again, off-again relationship and shared joint custody of their two children. They also had a history of domestic violence incidents dating back to 2003.

People who are in violent or abusive relationships, Jones said, should try to distance themselves from each other.

"You can't stay in that type of situation," he said. "More often than not, it only gets worse."

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

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