Jurors deliberated less than four hours Friday before returning guilty verdicts against Quaker City area resident Douglas A. McClain, 30, in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Candace O'Neal, 50.
McClain was convicted of murder and a firearm specification to conclude a four-day trial in the Guernsey County Common Pleas Court. He will be sentenced by Judge David A. Ellwood in the near future.
Evidence presented during the trial indicated O'Neal, who was unarmed when shot, was struck in the back once by a round fired by McClain. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy at the Licking County Coroner's Office revealed the .38-caliber bullet struck her lung and heart before exiting the body. She died within seconds of the fatal shot being fired on Dec. 28, 2008.
"I am very satisfied with the jury's verdict, and I know the victim's family is also satisfied with the verdict," said Guernsey County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel G. Padden.
Defense attorney Angelo F. Lonardo told the jury consisting of 11 women and one man that McClain shot O'Neal in self-defense -- a defense permitted by Ohio law.
By offering self-defense as justification for the shooting, McClain was required to prove that shooting O'Neal was his only reasonable way to avoid death or serious bodily harm.
Lonardo told jurors McClain was shot first by O'Neal and feared for his life as he believed she was returning to get the gun to shoot him a second time when he killed her.
Evidence presented during the trial indicated she was walking away from the gun and toward the front door, presumably to leave, when the fatal shot was fired into her back from close range (less than three feet).
McClain, who was also shot by a .45-caliber round that struck his rib and lung, then called 911 to report the shooting.
Prosecutors contended McClain may have shot himself so the shooting appeared to be self-defense, but Lonardo disagreed. He said his client had already been shot and believe he was dying when he called authorities.
During his closing statement, Padden questioned how McClain could be dying and still have the ability to walk throughout the home in several directions; attempt to flush marijuana down the toilet; go outside to say good-bye to his wolves after sheriff's deputies arrived; walk into the ambulance under his own power; and remove a hooded sweatshirt inside the ambulance.
McClain was treated in the emergency department at Southeastern Med and then released several hours after the shooting incident at approximately 4 p.m.
Two key pieces of evidence presented during the trial were the bullet that was fired through O'Neal and a treadmill located near the front door.
Jurors were told a mark left on the treadmill by the round fired through O'Neal indicated she was walking away from the kitchen where the .45-caliber gun was left and not toward it, as claimed by McClain.
"It is murder," said Padden. "There was a seven -month investigation before he (McClain) was indicted and the investigation continued after he was indicted. The sheriff's office and prosecutor's office worked extremely hard on this case. It was an outstanding effort by the sheriff's office.
"We also received great support from the local hospital (Southeastern Med) and staff, as well as the agents at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification," added Padden.
McClain faces 15 years to life in prison on the murder charge and a mandatory three-year sentence on the firearm specification that will be served consecutive to and prior to the murder sentence.
"We will recommend a life sentence without parole for 15 years and three years on the firearm specification, because that's the law," said Padden.
McClain was remanded into the custody of the Guernsey County Sheriff's Office to be held in the county jail until his sentencing date.