Las Vegas Sun

January 23, 2018

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Testimony hones in on use of cane in McClain death

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Allainna McClain

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Clifford McClain

Testimony in the third day of Clifford E. McClain’s murder trial in Clark County District Court focused Thursday on whether a cane was used in the deadly attack on his ex-wife at a northwest Las Vegas home last year.

McClain, 29, is accused of beating and strangling 24-year-old nursing student Allainna McClain on Feb. 17, 2008.

Her body was found by her mother-in-law, Melody Nelson, in the garage of Nelson’s home near the intersection of Charleston Boulevard and Fort Apache Road.

Clifford McClain, an employee at a pharmaceutical company at the time of the killing, is charged with first-degree murder, assault and battery and domestic violence battery.

Nelson had just returned from a vacation with the McClains’ two children -- aged 4 and 2 -- when she discovered the body. Allainna had arrived early to pick up her children as planned.

Prosecutors say Nelson then 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 Allainna was non-responsive, called 911.

Clifford McClain was at the scene when Metro Police arrived, but he was unresponsive to questions, said Deputy District Attorney Phillip Smith.

The Clark County Coroner ruled Allainna McClain’s death a homicide as a result of strangulation and that she also suffered blunt force trauma to both sides of her head.

The prosecution intends to prove that Clifford struck Allainna in the head with a wooden cane -- which was found near her body -- and then strangled her.

Terry Martin, a crime scene analyst supervisor with Metro, testified during cross-examination that no blood had been found on the cane.

The prosecution also presented the actual cane and two wood fragments found on the garage floor -- which it believes originated from the cane’s impact -- during the testimony of Erin Marie Taylor, crime scene analyst with Metro.

But when Clifford McClain’s attorney, Michael Schwarz, asked Taylor if any definitive testing had been made to determine if the fragments originated from the cane, Taylor said no.

The prosecution also questioned Fred Boyd, a forensic scientist and fingerprint expert who said fingerprints were obtained from the middle and lower portions of the cane, and not the top half or handle.

When Schwarz asked if any of the fingerprints on the cane matched Clifford or Allainna McClain, Boyd said no.

The trial resumes at 8 a.m. on Jan. 16.

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