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Ex-deputy faces trial on charges of assault, torture of wife, rival

April 13, 2012 |  1:05 pm

Robert A. McClain
A former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy is scheduled to go on trial Monday on charges he tortured, beat and sexually assaulted his wife and another man he believed to be her lover, leaving the man brain damaged, and mutilating both for life, prosecutors said.

Robert A. McClain's trial is slated to begin Monday in a Santa Ana courtroom more than three years after he is accused of tricking his wife into introducing him to the man. He then held the couple captive overnight at an Irvine apartment complex, where he beat them, forced them to undress at knife point and ordered the woman to castrate her younger suitor, according to prosecutors.

McClain, 38, in 2008 was a sworn deputy when he allegedly sodomized his wife and chopped off her hair with the knife, prosecutors said. The ex-Marine faces potential multiple life sentences if convicted of the mayhem, torture, kidnapping and sexual assault charges.

With McClain having entered pleas of “not guilty” and “not guilty by reason of insanity,” the trial will be held in two phases. During the initial phase jurors will hear evidence about the alleged crimes and the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of those crimes.

If McClain is convicted, the case would go to the second phase, the sanity phase, in which the same jury considers evidence to determine if the defendant was legally sane at the time of the crime.

For McClain to be considered legally insane, the defense must prove that the defendant had a mental disease or defect when he committed the crime and that this defect kept him from understanding the nature of his act or that it was morally or legally wrong.

Prosecutors said the nine-hour ordeal began about 9 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2008, when McClain's wife told him she was leaving him for the younger man, whom she met while working in the leasing office of the apartment complex where he lives.

McClain then used a ruse to persuade his 31-year-old wife to introduce him to the 23-year-old man.

During the course of the attack, McClain allegedly forced both victims to undress and then tried to force his wife to "orally copulate both him and [the other man]," according to prosecutors. McClain also wielded a gun during the ordeal. McClain also ordered his wife to castrate the younger man, and she "fearfully pretended to follow his instructions," prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the younger man suffered several knife wounds to his groin area. McClain also allegedly urinated on the victims and sodomized the man with a knife, prosecutors said.

After slashing the man's face with the knife, prosecutors said, McClain fled the scene, forcing his wife to go with him. McClain then sexually mutilated his wife with the knife, chopped off her hair, and ultimately drove her back to their Irvine home, prosecutors said.

The next morning at 5 a.m., the wife was able to escape the house with the couple's four children and drive to a nearby hospital for help, authorities said. A cleaning crew discovered the other victim in the leasing office of the apartment complex about two hours later and called 911.

At the time of the attack, the male victim's aunt told The Times, "I think my nephew came across pure evil. It is hard to believe that there is that much anger and hate in someone."

Both victims are still suffering the aftereffects of the savage attack, prosecutors said. The man suffered brain damage, several bone fractures in his face, excessive blood loss and numerous stab wounds.

His mouth had to be wired shut and he spent months re-learning to walk and talk, according to prosecutors. The wife also suffered several injuries, prosecutors said.

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-- Richard Winton

Photo: Robert A. McClain. Credit: handout

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